The military transitional government of Mali is expected to announce a deal with the Russian Wagner Group to combat the Islamic jihadist movements that are spreading violence across the country. 

Moscow has confirmed the deal. Nevertheless, it stated that it had nothing to do with the negotiations as Mali approached Wagner directly. Moscow said that Mali feels it is effectively being banned by France which decided to unilaterally withdraw from the country.

Mali will hire 1,000 Wagner Group mercenaries to help fight ISIS jihadists in the Greater Sahara, which is believed to have at least several hundred fighters in the region. Wagner will also face off against al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Nusrat al-Islam, officially known as Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wal al-Muslimin (JNIM). 

Mali will pay the company $10.8 million a month, according to a Reuters report.


Wagner Has a ‘Legimitate Right’ to Be in Mali

Wagner Group mercenaries have a deserved reputation for violating human rights everywhere they’ve been deployed to from Libya and Syria to the Central African Republic (C.A.R.). A video of them sledgehammering a man in Syria was posted on the internet.

The French defense ministry declined to comment on the deal.

Paris has been evolving its mission in the Sahel. It has 5,100 troops in Mali as part of Operation Barkhane but is pulling them back from the country’s northern parts. France could reduce its troops in the Sahel to 2,500 by 2023.