Politics Russia-West tensions provoke UN debate over Mali peacekeepers

Russia-West tensions provoke UN debate over Mali peacekeepers

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United Nations (AP) – Tensions between Russia and the West have intensified talks about the future of one of the United Nations’ largest and most dangerous peacekeeping missions, which was sent to help Mali prevent a decade of Islamic terrorist insurgency.

At a time when volatile terrorist attacks are intensifying, the UN mission in the West African country is set to resume operations this month. Three UN peacekeepers were killed earlier this month. Mali’s economy is choking on sanctions imposed by neighboring countries After the postponement of the elections promised by its military rulers. France and the European Union have ended their own military operations in Mali Relations with the ruling junta were strained.

UN Security Council members widely agree that the peacekeeping mission MINUSMA should continue. But this week’s council debate is fraught with tensions over France’s future role in Mali and the presence of Russian military contractors.

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“The situation has become very critical for negotiations,” said Rama Yade, senior director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, a Washington – based think tank.

“The international context has a role to play and Mali is part of the Russian game on the international stage,” she says.

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  • The Peacekeeping Mission was launched in 2013 after France led military intervention to eliminate terrorist insurgents who had seized cities and major cities in northern Mali the previous year. Minusma There are now about 12,000 soldiersAnother nearly 2,000 police and other officers. There are more than 270 peacekeepersDied.

    France is leading the talks on extending the mission’s command and proposing to continue providing French air support. El-Ghazim Wane, a senior UN official for Mali, said the force needed the capabilities of attack helicopters in particular.

    But Mali strongly opposed the presence of French air.

    “We call for respect for the sovereignty of our country,” Foreign Minister Abdou Dioup told the council on Monday.

    Mali sought military assistance from one-time colonial ruler France in 2013. The French military was credited with repelling the rebels from Timbuktu and other northern centers, but they regrouped elsewhere, began to attack the Malian army and its allies, and advanced further. South. According to a UN report this month, the government now controls only 10% in the north and 21% in the central region.

    Tolerance is declining with the French military presence, especially as terrorist violence escalates. A series of anti-French demonstrations took place in the capital, with some observers suggesting that it was promoted by the government and the Russian mercenary Wagner Group.

    Mali has grown closer to Russia in recent years because Moscow is looking to gain alliances and dominance in Africa – and the two countries are at odds with the West. Russia’s actions in Ukraine since 2014 and Mali’s failure to hold the elections promised last February have hurt high-level Malian and Russian officials with EU sanctions.

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    In the wake of that, members of the Security Council have been embroiled in controversy over the existence of the Wagner Group in Mali. The Kremlin denied any involvement with the company. But Western analysts say it is a tool to achieve the influence of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In Africa.

    The Wagner Group has been accused of serious human rights and international human rights abuses by the EU and human rights groups. In Mali, Human Rights Watch accused Russian soldiers and the Malian army of killing hundreds of civilians. In the town of Maura; Mali said those killed were “terrorists”. The UN peacekeeping force is investigating as the Malian government.

    A recent UN report on Mali has commented on a “significant increase” in reports of abuses by militants and Malian forces sometimes carried out in conjunction with “foreign security personnel”. It did not name names, but council members told British Deputy UN Ambassador James Curry that “there is no illusion – this is a Russia-backed Wagner group.”

    Mali said otherwise. Despite officials saying Russian troops were training Malian troops as part of a long-running security partnership between the two governments, the Diop insisted the Security Council “knew nothing about Wagner”.

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    However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a TV interview in May that the Wagner Group was in Mali “on a commercial basis”.

    Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Anna Evstigneeva told the Security Council that African countries have the right to recruit troops. She noted that despite European military efforts, they have every reason to say that Mali’s security “continues to unravel.”

    She blasted Western intolerance of Russia’s tight ties with Mali as “neocolonialist policies and dual standards”.

    Secretary-General Antonio Guterres plans a six-month review to examine ways to retail Minusma.

    Sadya Toure, author and founder of Mali Musso, a women’s organization, told the council that her country “should not be a battleground between major powers.”

    “People are experiencing the consequences of these tensions.”

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