Lavrov Confirms Contact With Paramilitary Organisation in Mali
More than ten days ago, reports of a possible deployment of Russian mercenaries in Mali surfaced for the first time. Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov has now confirmed contact with a paramilitary group. Whether this is the Wagner Group remains unclear.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has confirmed that the authorities in Mali, West Africa, have contacted a private Russian military company. “We have turned to a private military company from Russia,” Lavrov said at a press conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. “As I understand it, in connection with the fact that France seeks to significantly reduce its military contingent that was there and (…) should fight terrorists.”
Lavrov emphasised that he saw no responsibility for the Russian government in this matter: “We have nothing to do with this. These are commercial contracts between a recognised, legitimate government and those who provide foreign military aid.”
Lavrov did not directly mention the name Wagner. In France and other western countries, reports of the possible use of Wagner in Mali had recently caused great concern. In Germany, voices increased to review the deployment of the Federal Armed Forces in the African crisis state in such a case.
Mali’s government announced around a week ago that the alleged plans to hire Wagner were merely rumours. According to information from the capital Bamako, the leadership, which came to power through a coup, is primarily concerned with its own personal protection. Around 900 men and women from Germany are involved in the UN Minusma mission to stabilise Mali. About 300 German soldiers are also in the country for the EUTM training mission, running since 2013.