The United Kingdom announced on Monday an early withdrawal of its soldiers currently stationed in Mali, highlighting in particular the ruling junta’s appeal to the Russian paramilitary group Wagner. “The United Kingdom contingent will leave (…) [la mission de la paix de l’ONU] earlier than expected,” Secretary of State for the Armed Services James Hippie told the House of Commons.
“We must clearly understand that the responsibility for all this lies with Bamako,” he added, referring to the rapprochement of the junta in power since 2020 with the Wagner paramilitary group, which was reputed to be close to the Moscow regime.
“The Mali government’s partnership with the Wagner group is counterproductive to long-term stability and security in the region.” The British government “cannot use the national army to provide security when the host government is unwilling to work with us to ensure lasting stability and security,” insisted James Hippie.
Initially, the withdrawal of troops was planned to take place within the next six months.
About 300 British soldiers have been in Mali since the end of 2020 as part of the deployment to the country of a UN peacekeeping mission launched in 2013 called Minusma, aimed, among other things, at stabilizing the security situation in the jihadist-infested country. attacks. The commitment was supposed to last three years, but faced with growing instability in the country, London decided to provide for the withdrawal of its troops, which should leave the country in the next six months, according to the Ministry of Defense.
France, the main country carrying out military intervention in Mali, in particular, through the soldiers of the Barhan forces, as well as its European partners, announced in February that they were withdrawing from the country. The last French soldiers left Mali this summer after nearly a decade of intervention.
Relations between Malian authorities, which have been dominated by the military since August 2020, and its partners, in particular the UN, have been strained in recent months. After ousting a former French ally, the ruling junta verbally attacked Minusma several times, whose mandate was extended by one year in June.