From Russia with Love: Will Russian mercenaries fill the void left by French forces in Mali?


Are the Russians coming, as the famous US Secretary of Defense James Forrestal warned in 1949? Absolutely, according to Dr. Douglas Yates, professor of political science at the American Graduate School in Paris. ‘We see them in the Central African Republic, they are very effective, and their presence does not cost Russia dear … There is therefore no reason to think that Russia would be incapable of doing in northern Mali what it already done in the Central African Republic. Historically speaking, says Dr Yates, the military partnership between Russia and Mali makes perfect sense. “If you look at the history of Mali, there was a time when the Malian army worked with the Russians during the Cold War.” Fast forward to 2021, “this is a perfect opportunity for Russia to try to fill a void created by a French evacuation, the same way China enters Afghanistan.” While Mali’s main military partner, France, puts an end to its operation in the Sahel, Dr Yates stresses that Russia “could very well wage the war against terrorism”. And, in that sense, France should be happy that Russia is footing the bill. France has no vital interests in northern Mali other than the war on terrorism and the attempt to prevent human migration. Both could be accomplished by Russian troops.

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