| 30 January 2023, Monday |

French ministers to raise concerns with Russia on West Africa activities

France’s foreign and armed forces ministers will stress their governments concern over the Kremlin’s activities in West Africa when they meet their Russian counterparts in Paris on Friday.

Relations have been strained over ongoing differences over Ukraine and more recently over the role of Russian mercenaries in West Africa, where France has thousands of troops fighting Islamist militants.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said the mercenaries are working at the behest of Moscow.

“This meeting will discuss the political and military dimensions of regional and international crises, in particular with regard to the situations in Ukraine and in the Sahel-Saharan strip in which France will express its concerns about Russia’s actions,” a joint statement by the French foreign and armed forces ministries said.

Diplomatic and security sources have told Reuters that Mali’s year-old military junta is close to recruiting mercenaries from the Russia Wagner Group.

France has mounted a diplomatic drive to thwart it, saying such an arrangement is incompatible with a continued French presence in its former colony.

  • Reuters