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Mali: UN ends peace mission, US blames Russia's Wagner

Mali's relations with the West have deteriorated sharply since a 2020 military coup. The junta has rallied behind Russia and brought in the paramilitary Wagner Group to meet its security needs.

Photo- MINUSMA has been one of the most dangerous missions and the most costly one for the UN, at $1.2 billion a yearImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance


The UN Security Council on Friday voted to end a decade-old peacekeeping mission in Mali as demanded by the country’s military junta.  

The French-drafted resolution, adopted by a 15-0 vote, ordered the mission, known as MINUSMA, to immediately start the withdrawal of over 15,000 personnel.

The pullout is to be completed by the end of the year.

The vote came two weeks after Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop called the UN operation a “failure” and urged its end.

Mali’s relations with the United Nations and Western nations have deteriorated sharply since a 2020 military coup in the country. 

The military regime also severed defense cooperation with France, the former colonial power.

Did Wagner influence Mali’s move?

The junta has instead rallied behind Russia and brought in the paramilitary Wagner Group.

The mercenaries have also been engaged in Moscow’s war in Ukraine and were part of a short-lived mutiny against Russia’s military last week led by the Wagner Group’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The US blamed Prigozhin for contributing to the termination of the UN mission.

How could Wagner Group revolt impact Africa?

Prigozhin “helped engineer” the withdrawal of peacekeepers to “further Wagner’s interests,” US National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby, said in Washington.

“We know that senior Malian officials worked directly with Prighozin employees to inform the UN secretary-general that Mali had revoked consent for the MINUSMA mission,” he said.

German troops to exit faster, Russia promises support

Following the vote, Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said her country’s troops would exit Mali faster than Berlin’s original timetable.

“The Bundeswehr will now withdraw in an accelerated and orderly

manner,” she said on Twitter on Friday. “The abrupt end of the entire UN mission is bitter news for the people in Mali to whom the mission gave protection and hope.”

British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward expressed regret that Mali wanted the peacekeepers to leave at a time when the region is “facing increasing instability and humanitarian needs.”

“And we do not believe the partnership with the Wagner Group will deliver long-term stability or security for the Malian people,” she said.

Shortly after the vote, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Diop and promised “unstinting support” for Mali in the military, humanitarian and economic areas, the foreign ministry in Bamako said.

Mali faces daunting security challenges

Mali has been in turmoil for more than a decade, witnessing military coups and being plagued by acute security concerns.

The situation is particularly bad in northern and central parts of the country.

Militants who have pledged allegiance to the terrorist groups “Islamic State” or al-Qaeda control swathes of territory there.

Germany to continue development aid to Mali

A French-led military operation in 2013 helped the government take back control of the nation’s northern cities from extremist rebels.

But they regrouped in the desert and began launching attacks on the Malian army and its allies.

The UN peacekeeping mission began a few months later.

It has been one of the most dangerous missions and the most costly one for the UN, at $1.2 billion a year.

Since its creation in 2013, many peacekeepers have died.

About 13,000 troops and police have been deployed to Mali as part of the operation.

sri/lo (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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