Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that any questions concerning the hiring of Russian private military companies (PMC) to work in the territory of Mali are solely within the jurisdiction of the government of that African Republic.
PMCs sign such contracts on their own, Lavrov said. “If these contracts are signed with legitimate governments of sovereign states, I do not understand what can be seen as negative about that.”
According to Lavrov, attempts by Western media to create a negative background around the work of Russian PMCs in Africa cannot harm the image of Russia.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Integration, and International Cooperation Abdoulaye Diop of Mali shares this position.
“The relations between Mali and Russia are partnership relations. Mali will not allow any state to tell us with whom we have the right to communicate and with whom we do not. We have the right to determine our destiny and cooperate with any state. We protect the interests of our population. We are concerned not about cooperating with a private military organization but about how to ensure the security of our territory and residents. We understand that the Malian authorities should be able to make their own decisions. That is our right and our responsibility. Our main concern is ensuring the security of our territory,” he said.
Reports last summer said that Wagner Group mercenaries had arrived in Mali. In September, the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed an agreement between the authorities of the African republic and the Russian company. According to the images posted on the Internet, Russian mercenaries train servicemen of the Malian armed forces.