As of: 09/15/2021 4:20 p.m.
Germany has been participating in the UN mission in Mali for eight years. But now the use could be on the brink. The background to this is the possible cooperation between the Malian government and Russian mercenaries.
After reports about the possible cooperation of the government in Mali with Russian mercenaries, Federal Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer questions the use of the Bundeswehr in the African country.
The CDU politician wrote on Twitter that such agreements between Mali and Russia would contradict everything “what Germany, France, the EU and the UN have been doing in Mali for eight years”. Should such a cooperation be confirmed, the Federal Government would have to draw conclusions together with the Bundestag – possibly also regarding the mandate for the deployment of German soldiers.
France threatens to withdraw its soldiers
On Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian criticized the possible cooperation between the Malian government and the so-called Wagner group. These are Russian mercenaries who have been accused of torture and extremely violent behavior in the past.
As the news agency Reuters reported, citing diplomatic circles, Mali and the mercenary group are to negotiate that the mercenaries train the Malian military and protect leading representatives of the regime. The AFP agency reported that up to a thousand paramilitaries are to train the armed forces in Mali.
The Malian authorities admitted that talks were being held with the Russian group, but that “nothing has been signed yet”. Russia denied that there were negotiations on a military presence in Mali.
“Abuses and all kinds of violations”
“Wagner is a militia that has shown in the past in Syria and the Central African Republic through mistreatment and all kinds of violations that it is not part of a solution and therefore incompatible with our presence,” said Le Drian.
The Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Defense also said that the reports were “worrying”. The European and international partners will be consulted and, if necessary, the consequences will be discussed.
Blue helmets in use since 2013
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has been ongoing since 2013. It is considered to be the most dangerous use of blue helmets. More than 250 UN forces have died since the mission began.
The mission is intended to stabilize the West African country. Here Malian, French and European armed forces, as well as the UN troops, have long been fighting against insurgents associated with the terrorist militias “Islamic State” and Al-Qaeda.