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From Russia with Love: Will Russian mercenaries fill vacuum left by French forces in Mali?

Are the Russians coming, as the US Secretary of Defense James Forrestal famously warned back in 1949? Absolutely, according to Dr. Douglas Yates, Professor of Political Science at the American Graduate School in Paris. 'We see them in Central African Republic, they're very effective, and their presence doesn't cost Russia a lot ... So there's no reason to think that Russia would be incapable of doing in the north of Mali what it's already doing in the Central African Republic.' Historically speaking, Dr. Yates explains, the military partnership between Russia and Mali makes perfect sense. 'If you look at the history of Mali, there was a time when the Malian military did work with the Russians during the Cold War.' Fast forward to 2021, 'it's a perfect opportunity for Russia to try to step into a gap created by a French evacuation, the same way that China is going into Afghanistan.' As Mali's key military partner France draws down their Sahel operation, Dr. Yates points out that Russia 'could very well fight the war on terror. And, in that sense, then France should be happy to have Russia pick up the tab. France has no vital interests in the north of Mali, except the war on terror and trying to prevent human migration. Both of those could be accomplished by Russian troops.'

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