11 Nov 2021 17:39

Presence of private military companies in Mali strictly within its govt's jurisdiction - Lavrov

MOSCOW. Nov 11 (Interfax) - Any questions regarding the presence of private military companies (PMCs) in Mali, including those from Russia, are exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Malian authorities, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"We don't have any relation to the activities of any such organizations set up by Russian citizens. They conclude contracts on their own, and if those contracts are concluded with legitimate governments of sovereign states, I don't understand what can be seen as negative about that," Lavrov said at a joint press conference with Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop in Moscow on Thursday.

"In principle, the market for these PMCs, the market of services that PMCs offer in the field of military cooperation, has been created and developed precisely by Western countries for a long time. Among PMC leaders are definitely the United States [...], the United Kingdom, and also the French Republic," he said.

"As concerns reports on the Malian government's plans to apply for a Russian PMC's services, of which the Malian prime minister spoke publicly at the UN General Assembly session, this question is exclusively within the jurisdiction of the legitimate Malian government," Lavrov said.

Russia "has a long history of military and military-technical cooperation with Mali. We are continuing these traditions, delivering the necessary hardware, equipment, munitions, and weapons to the Malian government, the Malian Armed Forces, so that the Malian government can properly counter the terrorist threat. This threat persists," he said.

Apart from deliveries of military products to Mali, Russia will also continue to train Malian officers at Defense Ministry colleges, Lavrov said.