World, Europe

Berlin concerned over reports of Mali deal with Russian mercenaries

Defense minister warns of likely consequences for German-Malian security cooperation if Mali presses ahead with controversial Wagner agreement

Oliver Towfigh Nia   | 15.09.2021
Berlin concerned over reports of Mali deal with Russian mercenaries

BERLIN

Germany's defense minister warned Mali on Wednesday against hiring Russian private security firm Wagner amid allegations that the West African country's military government is close to sealing a deal for 1,000 mercenaries.

"The reports of possible military cooperation between Mali and Russia are very worrying. This contradicts everything that Germany, France, the EU, and the United Nations have been doing in Mali for eight years," Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wrote on Twitter.

She referred to reports that the military leadership, which came to power in a recent coup in Mali, wanted to sign an agreement with the Russian mercenary company Wagner.

Germany is involved in two international missions in Mali; around 880 German soldiers are part of the UN force Minusma.

The German army currently provides around 110 men and women for the EU Training Mission in Mali.

Kramp-Karrenbauer warned of likely consequences of the German-Malian security cooperation if Mali presses ahead with the controversial Wagner deal.

"Should the cooperation of Mali with Russian mercenary groups be confirmed, this would call into question the basis of the Bundeswehr's (German army) mandate for Minusma and the EU Training Mission, and we would have to draw conclusions together with the Bundestag (German parliament)," the minister said.

Her remarks followed news reports that the Wagner Group would be paid around $10.8 million a month for its services.

The latest developments come amid earlier calls by German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a stronger international cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Mali.

"We will have to bring all these missions together and coordinate them even better in the next few years," said Merkel in Berlin during a virtual meeting of the Franco-German Parliamentary Assembly in June.

In some cases this has already been achieved but problems remain, she pointed out.

Merkel also vowed to keep up the military and security cooperation with France in Mali.

"We are ready to continue to support France, which is doing a very, very, very large part here," she added, while warning that terrorism was on the rise in the war-stricken country.

France is deployed in the Sahel zone with around 5,100 troops and is fighting against terrorist groups, some of which have sworn allegiance to Daesh/ISIS or al-Qaeda.

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