Sixteen European governments have issued a statement to “strongly condemn the deployment of mercenary troops” in the West African state of Mali. All 16 governments, including France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany, said they were aware of “the involvement of the government of the Russian Federation in providing material support for the Wagner group’s deployment in Mali and called on Russia to become a responsible and constructive behavior in the region .
The Wagner group, a notorious Russian paramilitary company, and associated military contractors have previously been deployed to eastern Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Mozambique and the Central African Republic, according to multiple CNN investigations.
Earlier this week, flight tracking data showed a Russian Air Force Tu-154 flying to Mali’s capital Bamako from Benghazi in Libya, where Wagner has had a presence in support of forces led by Khalifa. Haftar, a renegade general who leads the army. Self-styled Libyan National Army.
The plane belonged to Flight 223 of the Russian Air Force. The Russian Defense Ministry had previously signed a contract, the details of which were seen by CNN, with a company owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin for the use of Flight 223 transport aircraft.
Prigozhin, an oligarch so close to the Kremlin that he is known, is believed to be As President Vladimir Putin’s “chef”, he is the driving force behind the Wagner group. European states said the deployment to Mali “can only further deteriorate the security situation in West Africa. CNN reported earlier this year on human rights abuses, including arbitrary killings and torture of civilians.
by Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic.Last week, the European Union imposed sanctions against Wagner; eight people associated with the group; and three entities linked to it for what it called “serious human rights abuses, including torture and extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings and executions. Mali has faced a long-standing jihadist insurgency that has killed thousands of civilians. A UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, has been unable to quell the violence, which has claimed the lives of more than 150 of its soldiers.