Mali’s foreign minister, Abdallah Diop, on Friday defended the military government’s cooperation with Russia and rejected three options proposed by the UN secretary-general to reconfigure a peace-keeping force. pace of the United Nations in the West African country where al-Qaeda extremists and the Islamic State group are located causing instability Security.
Diop told the Security Council that security was the country’s top priority and that Mali would no longer justify its partnership with Russia, which provides training and equipment to the army.
Diop did not mention the Russian Wagner group, a private military contractor with ties to the Kremlin.
But Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ internal review released this week on the 17,500-strong United Nations mission, known as MINUSMA, indicated Mali’s longstanding security partnership with France and others had deteriorated over concerns for the Wagner Group’s support for the Malian military, which publicly acknowledged Russian officials, according to Guterres.
For his part, US Deputy Ambassador Richard Mills said the US welcomes the UN’s recognition of the Wagner Group’s presence in its internal audit. in Mali.
He described Wagner as “a criminal organization that commits widespread atrocities and human rights violations in Mali and elsewhere”.
The United States has imposed several round sanctions against Wagner and his owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a rogue millionaire with long ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Last year, France withdrew its forces from Mali, where it had helped drive extremists out of the country for nine years, following tensions with the ruling military junta and the arrival of Wagner’s mercenaries.
French Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Nathalie Broadhurst, told the Security Council on Friday: “Their presence amounts to systematic violations against Malian civilians and further obstruction of MINUSMA… This is unacceptable.”
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