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Russia Considers Mali Gov’t. as Legitimate, Cooperation as Positive, Diplomat Says

© AP Photo / MOULAYE SAYAHFrench Barkhane forces patrol the streets of Timbuktu, Mali, Wednesday Sept. 29, 2021. Many residents of Timbuktu are worried that when French troops pull out of the city in northern Mali, jihadis will return to impose strict Shariah law including public whippings and amputations. The Islamic extremists ruled Timbuktu in 2012 and banned music, sports and destroyed historic mausoleums, saying they were idolatrous.
French Barkhane forces patrol the streets of Timbuktu, Mali, Wednesday Sept. 29, 2021. Many residents of Timbuktu are worried that when French troops pull out of the city in northern Mali, jihadis will return to impose strict Shariah law including public whippings and amputations. The Islamic extremists ruled Timbuktu in 2012 and banned music, sports and destroyed historic mausoleums, saying they were idolatrous. - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.12.2021
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UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) - Russia considers the current government in Mali to be legitimate and views cooperation with it as positive, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy said on Tuesday.
"We have long traditions of cooperation and friendship with Malian government - with previous ones and with the current one. For us, this is a legitimate government," Polyanskiy said. "There are no doubts about this, and we cooperate with this [government] and we don't see any reasons why we should not view cooperation with this government as something positive."
Polyanskiy went on to say that Russia seeks to help the Malian people and is determined to do so.
When asked to further comment on the existing cooperation between the two countries, Polyanskiy noted that "cooperation means cooperation in training."
"We have always had military cooperation, government-to-government, on the training of Malian army," he said. "But it's not limited to military issues only. It's also in the field of education, of healthcare, of everything that makes a state a state. We also want Mali to be a strong country."
Polyanskiy pointed out that Russia is concerned that the Malian government has a symbolic control over the north of the country and now in the middle of the country as well."
"We don't think it's normal. And we think that it is in the interest of the whole international community to help the Malian government to recuperate control over its territory, and to help it to fight terrorism because Sahel is a very dangerous region," he said.

When asked about the presence of the Wagner Group, Polyanskiy said, "It's difficult for me to imagine what can be invented in the minds of our Western colleagues or American colleagues. I can't comment on everything every crazy idea that they have in their minds and every allegation that they invent, because they don't even care to refute any allegations that didn't come true," he said. "They just make new allegations and everything fits in the picture of malign Russia promoting its malign interest in African continent."

Malian soldiers of the 614th Artillery Battery are pictured during a training session on a D-30 howitzer with the European Union Training Mission (EUTM), to fight jihadists,  in the camp of Sevare, Mopti region, in Mali March 23, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.12.2021
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The deputy envoy said any alleged involvement of the Wagner Group has nothing to do with any Russian officials nor is supported by the state.
"If it's on the market, so then it's up to any country to choose whether they cooperate or not cooperate with this company. And Mali is not an exemption of this kind. I don't see any reasons why the Malian government can’t take their sovereign decision to engage with this military company or with another military company of these kinds from another country," he said.
Earlier in December, the French Defense Ministry said Paris pulled out its troops from the city of Timbuktu in northern Mali, completing an eight-year military presence within the scope of Operation Barkhane, launched by France in 2014. The anti-terrorist operation is also supported by the G5 Sahel group, including Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Mauritania.
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