Talk of Wagner mercenary deal shines light on Mali power politics,

Mucahid Durmaz, journalist and researcher with a focus on West Africa and the Sahel

During the past week, reports of a deal that would see the possible deployment of a shadowy Russian military group in Mali has sent alarms to Western capitals, particularly Paris.

Experts have said that such a deal between Mali’s military-led government and the private security firm to hire nearly 1,000 mercenaries would increase Moscow’s influence while undermining French-led operations against armed groups operating in the country and the wider Sahel region.

“Such a choice would be one of isolation,” French Defence Minister Florence Parly warned on Monday during a visit to Mali aimed at preventing the move.

Germany has also taken aim at the potential deal, while the European Union cautioned “this certainly could seriously affect” the bloc’s relations with Mali. Last week, the spokesperson for the Malian defence ministry did not deny the reports, saying “Mali intends to diversify its relationships in the medium term to ensure the security of the country.” Läs artikel