Plans that would bring Russian mercenaries into Mali have been criticized by France’s foreign minister on Tuesday, saying such a move was “incompatible” with the French military presence in its former colony.
Diplomatic and security sources on Monday said a deal that would allow Russian mercenaries into Mali, extending Russian influence over security affairs in West Africa is close.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the Russian private military contractor “Wagner is a militia which has shown itself in the past in Syria and Central African Republic to have carried out abuses and all sorts of violations that do not correspond with any solution and so it is incompatible with our presence.”
“I am saying this so that it is heard,” he said.
Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly told a separate hearing that she was “extremely concerned” by such a deal.
France’s worry is that the arrival of Russian mercenaries would undermine its decade-old counter-terrorism operation against al Qaeda and Islamic State-linked insurgents in the Sahel region of West Africa.