Mali refutes Europe’s, Canada’s claims of Russian deployment
The government of Mali has refuted accusations made by
Canada and a number of European countries about the alleged deployment of private
officers from the Wagner Group.
According to the statement published on its official Facebook account, the government of Mali "officially rejects these groundless accusations and demands proof from independent sources." The government noted that it "participates only in an inter-state partnership with the Russian Federation, its historic partner," asking to "judge it by actions, not rumors." The "Wagner" Private Military Corporation (PMC) is not mentioned in the statement.
France and more than a dozen of Western allies have condemned what they claimed was the deployment of Russian mercenaries working for the Wagner Group in conflict-hit Mali, accusing Moscow of providing material backing for the fighters.
In a joint statement on Thursday, the 15 countries – including Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom – said they “firmly condemn the deployment of mercenary troops on Malian territory”.
On September 25, Russian Foreign Minister disclosed that Mali contacted a Russian private military contractor for aid in combating terrorism, adding that Moscow is not involved in this deal.
In early October, French Armed Forces General Staff Spokesman Colonel Pascal Ianni stated that French special operations units participating in the counter-terrorism operation in Sahel found no signs of Wagner’s presence in the region. Ianni also noted that he is unaware whether Mali made a deal with Wagner or not.
Since August 2020, Mali suffered two military coups. The first took place on August 18, 2020, and resulted in President Boubakar Keita being deposed. A group of military officers, led by Colonel Assimi Goita appointed Ba Ndao as the interim president. However, on May 26, the same group of military officers deposed him; meanwhile, the Constitutional Court of the republic appointed Goita as the interim head of state.