US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Mali on Wednesday of financial consequences and destabilization of the already violent country if the government recruited the Russian group of mercenaries Wagner.
The ruling junta in Bamako threatens to use the services of this private Russian company suspected of being close to Russian President Vladimir Poutin to help him in the fight against the jihadists.
The United States, followed by the European Union on Monday, imposed sanctions on the Wagner group, and Blinken on Wednesday regretted Mali’s refusal to deploy additional UN forces, “which would have contributed to the protection of civilians “.
“Wagner’s forces, known for their destabilizing activities and human rights violations, will not bring peace to Mali, but will further destabilize the country,” the secretary of state said in a statement.
“We urge the transitional government of Mali not to divert scarce budgetary resources from the fight against terrorism carried out by the Malian armed forces,” he added.
“The country’s wealth, including mining concessions, should go to the Malian people and not be mortgaged for the benefit of foreign forces who have no accountability and who are used to abusing local populations and compromising the control that host countries exercise over their own territory, ”he said.
Mr Blinken suggests that the partnership with Wagner could cost Mali $ 10 million per month.
The head of American diplomacy had made the same warning to the Wagner group against its interference in Mali, last month during his visit to Senegal.
The Malian authorities have threatened to turn to the group of mercenaries after France’s decision to reduce its military apparatus in Mali where it is fighting against jihadist groups.
French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to Bamako on Monday to meet with the Malian transitional president, Colonel Assimi Goïta, who came to head the Sahelian country by a putsch in August 2020 before being bolstered by a second coup in May 2021.
Wagner’s presence has been reported in Ukraine, Syria and Africa. For many NGOs and journalists, Russia uses the Wagner group and its mercenaries to serve its interests abroad, which the Kremlin denies.
UN experts in October accused the group of sexual harassment, intimidation and abuse in the Central African Republic.