France threatens withdrawal from Mali if Bamako uses Russians

French authorities on Tuesday expressed concern about talks between Bamako and the private Russian company Wagner, warning that a deployment of these paramilitaries in Mali could lead to a withdrawal of French troops, who have been fighting jihadist groups there for eight years.
An involvement of the Russian private company Wagner in Mali would be “incompatible” with the maintenance of a French force, French diplomatic chief Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Tuesday before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly.
“It is absolutely irreconcilable with our presence” and “incompatible with the action of Mali’s Sahelian and international partners”, he insisted, stressing that Wagner’s paramilitaries “have distinguished themselves in the past, particularly in Syria and the Central African Republic, with exactions, predations and violations of all kinds (and) cannot be part of any solution”.
“If the Malian authorities were to enter into a contract with the Wagner company, it would be extremely worrying and contradictory, inconsistent” with France’s action in the Sahel, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly had previously reacted before the National Defense Commission of the Assembly.
According to French sources close to the matter, the junta in power in Bamako is studying the possibility of concluding a contract with Wagner on the deployment of a thousand Russian paramilitaries in Mali in return for funds, to train its armed forces and ensure the protection of its leaders. According to West African security sources, mining considerations are being discussed. These sources confirmed information revealed by the Reuters agency.
When contacted by the media, the Malian Ministry of Defense admitted to holding talks with the sulphurous Russian company. “Mali now intends to diversify and in the medium term its relations to ensure the security of the country. We have not signed anything with Wagner, but we are discussing with everyone,” he said.
If the Wagner scenario were to materialize, a rapid departure of French troops from Mali to neighboring Niger would be studied, according to French sources.

About Geraldine Boechat 1719 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia