According to the German Defense Ministry, 20-30 people in military uniform, not related to the Malian armed forces, were seen at the Gao airport.
The German government demanded that the transitional government of Mali explain the alleged presence of Russian security forces at the Gao airport. The German ambassador to Bamako made the request to the Malian foreign ministry, a German Foreign Ministry spokesman in Berlin said Wednesday, Aug. 17.
“This is a development that changes the mission environment,” he added, referring to the Bundeswehr’s participation as part of the U.N. peacekeeping stabilization mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The German government is also discussing the issue with the United Nations, he said.
A spokeswoman for the German Defense Ministry said 20 to 30 people in uniform, not affiliated with the Malian armed forces, had been seen at the Gao airport. They were seen loading and unloading an aircraft that may have been handed over to Mali by Russia, she said.
Germany suspends Bundeswehr mission in Mali
Last week, the German Defense Ministry announced the end of the Bundeswehr mission in Mali “until further notice.” The reason for this decision was given as a disagreement with the government of the North African country, namely another denial of the right to fly to transport new personnel. This right was not granted despite a corresponding promise by the Malian government.
At the end of June, the UN Security Council extended the MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in Mali for another year. The German Bundeswehr is currently contributing more than 1,000 soldiers to the mission. Meanwhile, the work of peacekeepers in Mali is complicated by a number of circumstances related to tensions between the West African country and its international partners and the rise of extremist groups in the country.