Sweden withdraws from the mission of the French-led Special Forces Takoba in Mali

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Its foreign minister said that Sweden has decided to withdraw its forces this year from the European Special Forces mission to the Sahel region, and will review its contribution to the United Nations after the arrival of Russian private military contractors in Mali.

“We have already decided to withdraw (from) the Takoba force this year,” Anne Lindy told reporters on Friday on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in western France.

“The question is what are we going to do with Minosma?” she said. , referring to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali.

The Swedish parliament has approved the deployment of up to 150 soldiers to Takoba in 2020 and it has about 250 military personnel as part of MINUSMA.

Takoba was established as a partial successor to France’s anti-terror operation Barkhane in West Africa’s Sahel region that French President Emmanuel Macron had begun to reduce from its initial 5,000-strong force.

It includes about 14 European countries that provide special forces and logistical and tactical support to work alongside regional forces for targeted operations against Islamic militants.

French officials said they would discuss with their partners how to respond in practice, but acknowledged that some countries on the mission are feeling particularly uncomfortable after the arrival in Mali of private military contractors from Russia’s Wagner Group, whose members are often ex-service members. .

Most of Takuba’s operations take place in the West African country.

Mali’s military-led interim government, which wants to extend its mandate for five years, has accused Paris of abandoning it and has contracted with Wagner, a move France and its allies have said runs counter to their military presence.

Linde said the arrival of the confirmed Wagner Group and the junta’s efforts to stay in power were unacceptable.

“We now know (there is) the Wagner Group … and if it had a stronger influence, it would not be possible to continue with such large numbers of troops from us,” she said, adding that the Swedish parliament would discuss the Mali issue. next week.

“Of course it will have consequences.”

A French military source said Sweden had always planned to withdraw its forces after two years and that its mandate expired in March. The source said that the Swedish officers will remain in the mission.

The European Union will impose sanctions on Mali in line with measures already taken by the Group of West African States, on the ruling junta’s delay in holding elections after the 2020 coup, Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said Thursday.

(Reuters)

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