Saturday, July 2, 2022

Sweden to withdraw from French-led special forces mission in Mali – Minister

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Sweden has decided to withdraw its troops this year from a European special forces mission to the Sahel region, and will review its UN contribution after the arrival of private Russian military contractors in Mali, its foreign minister said.

“We have already decided that this year we will withdraw (from) the force of Takuba,” Ann Linde told reporters on Friday on the sidelines of an EU foreign ministers meeting in western France.

“The question is what do we do with Minusma,” she said, referring to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.

The Swedish parliament approved the deployment of up to 150 soldiers to Takuba in 2020 and it has some 250 military personnel as part of Minusma.

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Takuba was established as a partial successor to Barkhane, France’s counter-terrorism operation in the West African Sahel region that French President Emmanuel Macron has started to reduce from its initial 5,000-strong force.

It comprises some 14 European countries, which provide special forces, logistical and tactical support to work alongside regional forces for targeted operations against Islamist militants.

French officials have said it will discuss with its partners how to respond operationally, but have acknowledged that some countries in the mission are particularly uneasy after the arrival in Mali of private military contractors from the Russian Wagner Group, whose members are mostly ex-service personnel.

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