German troops spotted several dozen Russian security forces at Gao airport in northern Mali on Monday, the day the last French soldiers completed their operations and left the country, Reuters reported citing a German military document dated Tuesday.
The document said 20 to 30 persons in military uniforms not belonging to Mali’s forces were seen unloading equipment from a Malian transport plane.
“They were almost certainly members of the Russian security forces. It has to be assumed that the L-39 has to be operated by Russian forces as the Malian security forces are not up to it,” it said.
Fighters from the Wagner Group, a Kremlin-linked private military company, have been supporting the Malian army in its fight against Islamist insurgents since late last year.
Berlin’s participation in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali has been controversial for some time in Germany as the West African country deepens its ties with Russia.