European Union Stops Training Mali’s Military

European Union Stops Training Mali’s Military (News Central TV)

The European Union, E.U, has announced that it will end its military training missions in Mali, but will maintain a presence in the Sahel region, which has seen an increase in Islamist assaults in recent years.

Josep Borrell, the E.U’s foreign policy leader, said one of the reasons for the decision not to continue training Malian troops was the presence of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group.

“We have decided to suspend, to stop, certain formations of our training mission in Mali focused on the units of the armed forces of the Malian national guard.

“There are not enough security guarantees from the Malian authorities over the non-interference of the well-known Wagner Group,” Borrell told a news conference following a meeting of E.U foreign ministers.

During an operation against Islamist extremists in central Mali late last month, rights groups say Russian and Malian soldiers killed hundreds of civilians.

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European Union Stops Training Mali’s Military (News Central TV)

After a collapse in relations with the ruling military junta that seized control last year, France, which has spearheaded the international military operation in the Sahel, announced in February that it was withdrawing soldiers from Mali.

Mali’s transitional government, which came to power in a military coup in 2020, is fighting Islamist extremists with the support of private military contractors from Russia’s Wagner Group.

According to Borrell, the Wagner Group, which is already sanctioned by the EU for human rights violations, was most certainly responsible for the deaths of civilians during a military operation in central Mali in late March.

Any wrongdoing by Russia in Mali or any other country where Wagner operates is categorically denied. Contractors have the right to operate and pursue their interests wherever in the world, according to President Vladimir Putin, as long as they do not infringe Russian legislation.

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Both Mali and Russia have previously stated that the Wagner Group is not made up of mercenaries, but rather trainers assisting local troops with Russian-supplied equipment.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will meet with the junta in Mali this week to discuss the future of German troops there.

She’ll next travel to Niger to meet with President Mohamed Bazoum and Foreign Minister Ibrahim Yacoubou before flying back to Germany on Saturday.

Baerbock’s goal, according to the spokesman, is to “obtain a precise picture of the political and security reality on the ground” as Germany considers its continued participation in military activities in Mali.

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Around 1,100 German soldiers are stationed in Mali as part of the UN’s MINUSMA peacekeeping mission. A total of 300 European troops have been deployed to Mali as part of the EU military training operation.

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