Mali's Junta Dismisses Warnings Not To Hire Russia's Vagner 'Mercenaries'.

Mali's ruling junta dismissed warnings by Western governments not to hire "mercenaries" from private Russian security firm Vagner, saying it will do as it sees fit.

France last week cautioned the West African nation against such a deal after unconfirmed reports the junta is close to hiring 1,000 paramilitaries to train its armed forces and protect officials.

Both France and Germany have said that a deal with Vagner would call into question their military commitments to the impoverished country.

"Regarding the intention ascribed to the Malian authorities to hire 'mercenaries,' the transition government led by the military invokes the exercise of its sovereignty,” Mali’s Foreign Ministry said in a September 19 statement.

Vagner is believed to be controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The group’s presence in Africa has been growing in recent years as the Kremlin seeks to expand its international influence amid a global retrenchment by Washington, analysts say.

Vagner is, or has been, present in Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan, and reportedly a few other African nations.

The military junta took power in Mali after overthrowing President Boubacar Keita in August 2020 and promised to hold elections in February 2022, which some now question.

The rumors of Mali hiring Vagner mercenaries comes after French President Emmanuel Macron in June announced that France plans to scale back its anti-jihadist forces in the region after more than eight years.

While the junta has not commented officially on the existence of contacts with Vagner, Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga alluded to them on September 16.

"There are partners who have decided to leave Mali...there are areas that have been abandoned," he said in reference to a redeployment of French forces in the Sahel. "Shouldn't we have a plan B?"

Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop met with Russian Ambassador to Mali and Niger Igor Gromyko on September 14, according to his Twitter feed.

The north of Mali fell under jihadist control in 2012 until they were pushed out of cities by France's military intervention in 2013.

However, the poor and landlocked nation home to at least 20 ethnic groups continues to battle jihadist attacks and intercommunal violence, which often spills over to neighbouring countries.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP

Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

https://www.rferl.org/

Related news

Russia hopes for a U-turn in the EU’s energy policy.

The current situation in the European market is unprecedented. Both natural gas and electricity prices have soared dramatically to levels never been seen before—almost ten-fold higher for natural gas (Finance.yahoo.com) or three- to four-fold high...

Euromaidan Press

Hundreds Of Inmates Riot In North Ossetia Prison

Hundreds Of Inmates Riot In North Ossetia Prison

Reports from Russia say several hundred inmates have rioted in a prison in the southern region of North Ossetia. The October 15 riot by up to 600 inmates broke out at Correctional Colony No. 1 in the regional capital, Vladikavkaz. In an interview ...

Radio Free Europe

Russia Labels Two More Media Entities 'Foreign Agents'.

Russia Labels Two More Media Entities 'Foreign Agents'.

The Russian authorities have designated the legal entities of two media outlets – the Rosbalt news agency and the website Republic.ru -- as "foreign agents" amid an intensifying crackdown on the media and civil society across the country.

Radio Free Europe

J.D. Vance: Attorney General Garland should resign over this

J.D. Vance: Attorney General Garland should resign over this

The Ohio Senate candidate and author discusses the DOJ tapping the FBI to probe threats against school staff and how he plans to run his campaign. Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC...

Retirees at Virginia Senior Homes Help Immigrant Staff Gain US Citizenship.

Retirees at Virginia Senior Homes Help Immigrant Staff Gain US Citizenship.

The immigrant workers at the Goodwin House retirement homes in Northern Virginia come from 68 different countries. When residents learned that the $725 fee to file for citizenship was a deterrent for many staff, they decided to help the immigrant ...

La Palma lava flow captured in drone footage

La Palma lava flow captured in drone footage

The full extent of one of the streams of lava flowing from La Palma’s Cumbre Vieja volcano was captured on Wednesday in aerial footage posted by Spain’s Geological and Mining Institute. The volcano has continued to spew lava, ash, and smoke into t...

J.D. Vance: Attorney General Garland should resign over this

J.D. Vance: Attorney General Garland should resign over this

The Ohio Senate candidate and author discusses the DOJ tapping the FBI to probe threats against school staff and how he plans to run his campaign

FULL TRAILER: Out of the Shadows: The Man Behind the Steele Dossier - ABC News.

FULL TRAILER: Out of the Shadows: The Man Behind the Steele Dossier - ABC News.

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos sits down with former MI6 spy Christopher Steele for a worldwide exclusive interview, marking his first sit down since the publication of the series of intelligence reports now known as the Steele dossier. Only on H...

1 12

Live: Biden Delivers Remarks on Covid Response and Vaccines - NBC News.

Live: Biden Delivers Remarks on Covid Response and Vaccines - NBC News.

Watch live coverage as President Biden delivers remarks on his administration's response to the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccination programs. » Subscribe to NBC News: » Watch more NBC video: NBC News Digital is a collection of innovative and powerfu...

2 22