Wagner PMC base in Mali hosts Turkish Bayraktar drones
A military base in Mali used by the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), a Russian mercenary group, has been spotted hosting several Turkish Bayraktar drones, according to a photograph obtained by The Insider.
The photograph, taken on August 30, shows at least three Bayraktar drones parked at the Sevare military airport near Mopti, where Wagner has set up a temporary base.
The Bayraktar drones in Mali
The Bayraktar drones are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) designed and manufactured by Turkey’s Baykar company. They are capable of carrying laser-guided bombs and missiles, and have been used by Turkey and its allies in various conflicts, such as Syria, Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh and Ukraine.
Mali’s government had acquired two Bayraktar TB-2 drones from Turkey in December last year, as reported by state-owned media. However, the photograph shows that the number of drones in Mali is larger than previously announced, and that they are not under the control of the Malian authorities, but rather of the Wagner PMC.
The Wagner PMC in Mali
The Wagner PMC is a shadowy Russian mercenary group that has been involved in several wars and covert operations in Africa and the Middle East, often in support of Russia’s interests and allies. The group is allegedly financed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close associate of President Vladimir Putin. In Mali, Wagner has been providing training and security services to the military junta that seized power in a coup in August 2020. The junta has faced resistance from Islamist militants and pro-democracy protesters, who have attacked Wagner’s base in Sevare several times.
On August 25, Prigozhin’s plane, which was carrying the command of the Wagner base, was shot down near Tver, Russia, killing all on board. According to sources within the former Wagner group, the base in Sevare has since been taken over by representatives of Russia’s Ministry of Defense.
The implications of the photograph
The photograph raises questions about the relationship between Turkey and Russia, which have been rivals and partners in various regional issues. It also shows the extent of Wagner’s involvement and influence in Mali, which is a strategic country for France and the European Union, as well as for the United States and its allies.
The presence of Turkish Bayraktar drones at Wagner’s base could indicate a possible transfer of technology or cooperation between Turkey and Russia, or a covert operation by Turkey to monitor or sabotage Wagner’s activities. The photograph could also have implications for the security and stability of Mali and the Sahel region, which are facing multiple challenges from terrorism, poverty and climate change.
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