As British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey saying that two coups in Mali in three years had “undermined” international efforts to maintain peace, the UK announced Monday that the country is ending troop deployment to the UN mission in Mali earlier than expected.
“The Wagner Group is linked to mass human rights abuses, and the Malian government’s partnership with the Wagner Group is counterproductive to lasting stability and security in their region,” Heappey said in a statement to the House of Commons.
“This government cannot deploy our nation’s military to provide security when the host country’s government is not willing to work with us to deliver lasting stability and security,” he noted.
Known as a Russian private military company, Wagner Group has reportedly operated in Ukraine, Syria and Libya and some African countries including Mali and the Central African Republic.
The group has been targeted in the raft of sanctions imposed on Russia by Western countries. Russia denies any links to the group.
Heappey added, however, that the country’s commitment to West Africa and the important work of the UN is undiminished.
“I will join colleagues from across Europe and West Africa in Accra to coordinate our renewed response to instability in the Sahel,” he said.
Since 2012, Mali has been battling growing violence orchestrated by militants in its northern and central regions targeting both soldiers and civilians.
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution in 2013 to establish a Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to support political processes in the country and carry out security-related tasks.
In 2014, the 12,000-strong UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) peacekeeping force began deployment in the troubled country.
The UK’s decision came following an announcement by French President Emmanuel Macron in February that his country is shifting its troops from Mali to Niger.