The French defence minister, Florence Parly, has warned Malian government against entering into a deal with a Russian security firm.
Wagner is said to be operating in several African countries as Russia plans to increase its influence. Malian military leaders are about to hire mercenaries for them.
Ms Parly described the potential deal as “extremely worrying”, saying it would undermine efforts by France to counter the jihadist threat in the region.
Its employees are fighting rebels in the Central African Republic where Russian companies have secured mining concessions.