French ministers express their concerns to Russia over activities in West Africa | World news

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PARIS (Reuters) – French foreign and armed forces ministers will highlight their government’s concern over the Kremlin’s activities in West Africa when they meet their Russian counterparts in Paris on Friday.

Relations have been strained due to lingering disputes over Ukraine and, more recently, over the role of Russian mercenaries in West Africa, where France has thousands of soldiers fighting Islamist militants.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the mercenaries were working at Moscow’s request.

“This meeting will address the political and military dimensions of regional and international crises, in particular with regard to the situations in Ukraine and in the Sahelo-Saharan strip where France will express its concerns about Russia’s actions”, indicates a joint statement from France. . said the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Armed Forces.

Diplomatic and security sources told Reuters that the Malian military junta was about to recruit mercenaries from the Russian Wagner group.

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France has mounted a diplomatic campaign to thwart it, claiming that such an arrangement is incompatible with a continued French presence in its former colony.

France postponed a September 2020 visit to Moscow by its foreign ministers and armed forces as European powers sought responses from Russia to Germany’s findings that Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny had been poisoned.

These had been scheduled as the first joint strategic talks since 2018 and were part of French efforts to reduce mistrust between Russia and the West, in the hope of securing Russian help in resolving the crises they most insoluble in the world.

(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Angus MacSwan)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.


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