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France Criticises Deal bringing Russian Mercenaries into Mali

French Defence Minister Florence Parly has warned Mali against a deal with Russian private security group Wagner amid claims the country’s military government is close to hiring 1,000 mercenaries. Two French sources told the AFP news agency on Tuesday that the Malian government was nearing a deal with the controversial Russian firm, which would underline Moscow’s growing influence in the region. Four sources told Reuters that the Wagner Group would be paid about $10.8m a month for its services, and that the mercenaries’ presence would jeopardise Mali’s funding from the international partners and allied training missions that have helped rebuild Mali’s army. In recent years, Russian paramilitaries, “security instructors”, companies and advisors have grown increasingly influential in the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR), whose relations with France have also nosedived. Forces from Wagner are also reported to be present in various countries elsewhere in Africa, including in Libya in support of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, in Sudan and in Mozambique.