German FM urges end to Mali cooperation with Russia
German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock has urged the Malian transitional government to stop cooperating with Russian forces.
This was after a meeting with the transitional president of Mali, Colonel Assimi Goïta in Bamako.
The minister said crimes in Mali had the same pattern used by Russian forces in Syria and Ukraine.
“I have made it very clear that this concerns above all the EUTM mission; we cannot continue to work together if there is no demarcation from Russian forces, and that is not the case at the moment, which is why we cannot continue the mission here in Mali as it is.” she said.
Some 300 German soldiers participate in the European Union Training Mission in Mali.
Whiles Baerbock expressed fear of crimes being committed against Malian civilians, the Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdoulaye Diop rather wants foreign partners to respect the choices of Mali, debunking claims suggesting that Mali is home to a private security company.
“Mali has state-to-state cooperation with Russia, which is a long-term cooperation. In addition, we hope that each of Mali’s partners will also respect Mali’s choices. Mali makes its choices according to its concerns, just as Germany makes its choices according to its concerns.”
Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes.
Mali’s under-equipped army has also often been accused of committing abuses during the brutal conflict.
He added that Baerbock was unfairly comparing events in Mali and Ukraine.
“Mali wants to work with all its partners, including Germany, Russia, China, the United States, all these partners who want to give us a hand to continue with us.”
There are allegations that Malian troops in coordination with foreign fighters, massacred hundreds of civilians in late March.
West Africa bloc ECOWAS has imposed sanctions on Mali, including a trade embargo, over the delayed return to civilian rule.