In light of the denial of the ruling military council, Washington and the United Nations confirm the presence of Russian Wagner mercenaries in Mali

The US military and the United Nations confirmed the presence of mercenaries from the Russian Wagner Group in Mali, which was not acknowledged by the ruling military council in Bamako in light of the increasing tension in its relations with Westerners.

“Wagner is in Mali,” General Stephen Townsend, the head of the US Africa Command, announced in an interview with “Voice of America” ​​radio and recorded Thursday, adding, “They’re there, we think they’re a few hundred now.”

“They are deployed with the support of the Russian army. They are flown by planes of the Russian Air Force,” he said, linking the group directly to the Kremlin, a charge Moscow denies.

“The whole world can see what’s going on,” General Townsend said, stressing that “this raises our great concern.”

international recognition

In a press conference held in New York, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who on Wednesday held telephone talks with the head of the ruling military junta in Mali, Colonel Asimi Guta, confirmed that the Wagner Group is in Mali.

When asked if he had discussed this issue with the head of the Malian Military Council, the Secretary-General of the United Nations said, “Cooperating with such an organization is a sovereign decision that rests with the Malian government.”

“The only thing we want is that it does not pose any difficulties” for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), he added.

“What we want is effective cooperation between MINUSMA and the Malian army, and we also want respect for human rights and international humanitarian law,” he said.


The Wagner Group is accused of committing abuses and looting against civilians in Central Africa.

Last week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused Wagner mercenaries of “supporting” the military junta in Mali under the guise of fighting jihadists, accusing Russia of “lying” about the group’s status.

“When we ask our Russian colleagues about Wagner, they say they don’t know it exists,” he said.

“When it comes to mercenaries who are former Russian fighters carrying Russian weapons and being flown by Russian planes, it is surprising that the authorities do not know about their presence,” he added.

The military council, which came to power in 2020 in Mali following a coup, does not intend to restore power to civilians in the short term, which angered the countries of the Group of West African States (ECOWAS), which approved severe sanctions that closed the borders with Mali and imposed a trade and financial embargo on it.

And the European Union threatens to pass similar sanctions soon, under pressure from France, which accuses the military council of using the Wagner Group.

official denial

The Malian military authority denies the spread of the Wagner Group in the country, and confirms the presence of Russian trainers similar to the European ones.

Media reports indicate that the military council in Mali hired about 400 mercenaries of the Russian Wagner Company, which angered France, the European Union and the United States of America as well, even if the Malian government denied this.

Western officials waved a card to withdraw the French forces from Mali, along with the European special forces operating in the “Takuba” operation, and even the European soldiers within the UN mission “MINUSMA”.

Le Drian and European Union Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell recently made it clear that the French and European forces present in Mali want to stay, “but not under any circumstances.”

The French, along with their European partners, would prefer the option of keeping their commitment, as Le Drian reiterated last week.

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