Mali: Russian forces already present in Gao after the withdrawal of the French army
The German government reported on Wednesday the “presumed presence of Russian forces in uniform” in the Malian city of Gao, just after the departure on Monday of the last soldiers of Operation Barkhane. The presence of Russian forces was detected as soon as the French soldiers left, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said.
“The Russians can install whatever they want on the Gao base”
The French barely left, the Russians take up residence. According to the German and British blue helmets, it was they who observed the presence of his auxiliaries at Gao airport on Monday.
On the tarmac, a training plane and the 39 Albatros, probably piloted by Russians since the Malian soldiers do not know how to operate this kind of aircraft. Behind the scenes, an incessant merry-go-round of men in uniform who came to unload equipment, all this only a few hours after the departure of the last French soldiers. A change of historical era, according to Antoine Glaser, specialist in Africa.
“There is a Russian presence which is going to become important, but in the whole region at the moment, Africa is globalizing at high speed and it is obvious that from there, the Russians can install whatever they want on the Gao base, perhaps to monitor the whole region”, he explains at the microphone of Europe 1.
An open secret
Officially, the French general staff does not confirm the presence of Wagner in Gao. “We haven’t been there since Monday, how could we know?” Feigns a high-ranking officer. But it’s an open secret. If the Barkhane force will no longer intervene directly on Malian territory, French military intelligence will not abandon its surveillance. If only to detect possible movements of terrorist groups to coastal countries, or even Niger, where the French army has withdrawn to continue its hunt for jihadists in the Sahel.
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