Would-be chancellors: Russian presence threatens German Mali mission

In the event of Russian mercenaries cooperating with Mali, more and more voices are calling for a review of the Bundeswehr’s mission in the country.

If the Malian military government is in collusion with Russian mercenaries, training for the Malian military must be suspended in any case, Green Party candidate for chancellor Annalena Baerbock told Saturday’s edition of the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.

Conservative candidate for chancellor Armin Laschet told the Sunday edition of Die Welt newspaper: “If Russian mercenaries are actually involved there, it calls the foundations of the mission into question.” Complete information was needed quickly and “a decision soon,” Laschet said.

Pressure had already grown in Berlin for a quick review of the current deployment of German soldiers in the West African country of Mali.

A total of about 1,200 Bundeswehr soldiers are currently in the country for a UN mission and an EU training mission.

On Friday, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence informed the members of the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, about findings that the leadership of Malian Colonel Assimi Goita, which came to power in a military coup, is negotiating with Russian actors.

According to the report, the subject of talks is a deployment of Russian mercenaries from the military company Wagner, which is said to be involved in training and personal protection.

Baerbock said she believes it is right to evaluate all foreign deployments independently in order to be able to adjust strategies sensibly and at an early stage.

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