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Nov 14, 2021
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Diamonds and gold in West Africa will be mined to the music of Wagner. PMC Wagner

Diamonds and gold in West Africa will be mined to the music of Wagner.  PMC Wagner

Photo: TASS / Yuri Smityuk

Paris has finally hosted the all-time postponed meeting of the Russian-French Security Cooperation Council (CSCC). Foreign Minister arrived there from Russia Sergey Lavrov with the defense minister Sergei Shoiguto meet with French colleagues – Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian and the Minister of the Armed Forces Ms Florence Parley

At first, it was assumed that the French would teach the Russians peace and kindness. Why not teach, neither the events in Afghanistan, nor the Donbass, nor the refugees on the Belarusian-Polish border directly concern France. And when you are not concerned, it is easy to be peaceful.

And suddenly – on the eve of the Paris event – the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the former French colony, Mali, also met with our Lavrov. Abdullah Diop… This circumstance for French diplomacy is more terrible than the alleged poisoning. Navalny, due to which the previous ministerial meeting was postponed.

And the head of the Mali Foreign Ministry complained in Moscow that the very existence of his country is under threat, despite the many years of efforts by French and other European peacekeepers, including Germans and Estonians. Therefore, the country in his person turned to Russia for help and support in the fight against terrorists. Something like this, by the way, happened more than once in Soviet times.

As for PMCs, Mr. Diop said that his country had not concluded a contract with any Russian private military company – yet.

France was sharply concerned about Russia’s actions – this time not only on the border with Ukraine, but also in the Sahara. Here the interests of the two countries collided. After the May coup in Mali, France is curtailing its military presence in that country. The president Emmanuel Macron decided to follow suit Joseph Biden and withdraw the foreign legion from Mali. But before he had time to evacuate, some Russians appeared there. Either just security guards, or a private military company (PMC)?

Leading expert of the Center for Military-Political Studies of MGIMO, Doctor of Political Science Mikhail Aleksandrov recalls that mainly our private military companies operate in the neighboring Central African Republic:

– Apparently their interests now extend to other regions. I think this is useful to us. PMCs – promote Russian influence. If they consider it necessary to act there, then apparently there is a certain benefit in this. Any expansion of our influence, even with the help of private military companies, is a positive thing. Especially if the state does not spend money on it.

This is the kind of English approach that has been practiced for a long time. Some Anglo-Boer or, for example, the East Indian company was created. They received a license from the British crown to operate in a certain region. Promoted British interests and at the same time – their own.

And we had such a form – this is the Cossacks. They received a letter from the tsar for the development of new territories and were successfully engaged in this. Now private military companies, in a new form, essentially continue the old traditions. And there is nothing wrong with that for us.

“SP”: – Most likely, the majority of modern people do not associate private military companies with the Cossacks. Maybe with computer shooters. Well, if in reality: what do our shooters in tropical camouflage need in Africa?

– North of Mali is the long-suffering Libya, rich in oil reserves. You can get there in a couple of days by jeep or camel in the desert. The borders are open there, local tribes wander from one country to another. If our outposts appear in Mali, this could have a stabilizing effect on the situation in Libya.

“SP”: – Why then the French, Germans and Estonians, who previously carried out a peacekeeping operation in Mali, as soon as they learned that the Russians would arrive there, decided to get out of there immediately?

– Apparently behind these statements there is actually the fact that the local authorities realized that there is no benefit from those peacekeepers, they no longer want to see them there. The Mali government has decided not to provide any further support. And if this is so, then European peacekeepers may find themselves between two fires: in the northeast – freedom-loving Tuaregs, and in the southwest – government troops. The Mali authorities turned to a Russian company for help and may have done the right thing …

An international peacekeeping contingent has been in Mali since 2013. The multidisciplinary integrated mission of the United Nations was called upon to stabilize the situation in this country. She did not succeed very well. More than two hundred peacekeepers were killed and nearly four hundred military and civilian personnel of the mission were injured.

Paris wanted to “take on the weak” of the interim President of Mali Assim Goitwithout foreign aid, it is difficult, if not impossible, to deal with the impending al-Qaeda *, an ultra-radical international terrorist organization that has launched its tentacles here too. But the new authorities in Mali quickly found a replacement for the French contingent in the person of PMC Wagner. It has already proven itself well in Africa – you pay ten million in hard currency, dollars or better euros – and the headache is gone. As for Mali, we can talk about eleven million.

France, Germany and Estonia have long declared their readiness to withdraw their peacekeepers from Mali if the authorities of this African country invite PMC Wagner. However, maybe not “Wagner”, but some other? It’s just that when it comes to the “Russian PMC”, then recently they all have been called “Wagners”.

But our Wagnerians, like their predecessors from the not so distant British past, mainly specialize in restoring order and – protecting mining. The main mineral in Mali is gold. It has been mined for a long time in the southwest. This country ranks third in gold in Africa after South Africa and Ghana. Diamond mining is also carried out here. Not as smartly as in Angola, where the expression “blood diamonds” has long appeared, but private miners are digging pits with might and main.

The Malian reserves of iron ores, lead and zinc, manganese, phosphorus, bauxite, and tin have been calculated. There is rare earth lithium and even uranium mining is possible. In the north of the country, exploration of hydrocarbon deposits is in full swing.

Deputy Director of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis Alexander Khramchikhin suggests that there are some minerals in Mali, but they are unlikely to be seriously explored:

– Obviously, Russia is primarily interested in the fight against the Al-Qaeda caliphate. It is believed that he threatens us, which I personally doubt. If there were economic interests, as, for example, in Libya or Syria, it would not be difficult to guess about them.

“SP”: – Will our official military advisers appear there or will the matter be limited to the presence of a private military company?

– I think that PMCs will be in the first place, although Mali is our traditional buyer of weapons, since Soviet times. That is, it is more accurate to say “the buyer” is conditional, they are unlikely to seriously pay for something. Maybe these days they will get something else from Russian weapons …

The Foreign Minister habitually called the topic of the presence of Russian PMCs in Africa “sucked out of hand”. In his opinion, it harms not so much the image of Moscow as the reputation of those who spread such fakes. Although Russian security guards, providing paid security services, have the right to be in African countries. In the same Libya, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Sudan, in Madagascar, as well as in Angola, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and, of course, in the Central African Republic.

However, the security business in Africa – it’s not for you to sit on a quiet Moscow entrance – and they can kill. Of course, training the Malian military is an honorable thing. But the cunning Malians see it as “perfectly normal to diversify their partners” in the security arena. So after a while there they can again call the French with the Estonians. Politics, nothing personal.


* “Al-Qaeda” – by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of February 14, 2003 was recognized as a terrorist organization, its activities on the territory of Russia are prohibited.

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