Russian mercenaries to Mali?

France, now in the process of drawing down its military presence in West Africa's Sahel nations, has criticized plans that could see Russian mercenaries brought to Mali, where jihadist groups tied to ISIS or al-Qaeda operate in large parts of the country. Reports suggest that Mali's transitional government is considering a deal with the Wagner Group, which has close links to Vladimir Putin and is also active in Central African Republic. The Coordinating Body of Azawad Movements (CMA), a coalition of Tuareg rebel groups that signed a peace deal with the Malian government in 2015, likewise expressed its "firm opposition" to any agreement to bring in the Wagner Group. (TNH)

Western powers condemn deployment of Russian mercenaries in Mali

Over a dozen Western powers issued a joint statement protesting the deployment in Mali of Russian mercenaries working for the controversial Wagner Group, accusing Moscow of providing material backing for the ostensibly private force. The powers, including France, the UK, Germany and Canada, said they "firmly condemn the deployment of mercenary troops on Malian territory." (France24)