Germany will end its participation in the European Union training mission in Mali but is ready to continue with a U.N. peacekeeping mission under certain conditions, Defence Minister, Christine Lambrecht, said on Wednesday.
Earlier this year, France and allies fighting Islamist militants in Mali said they would pull out troops after almost a decade.
The exit raised questions about the 14,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) and the European Union’s EUTM and EUCAP missions.
Under the current transitional Malian government, there was a danger that Germany-trained Malian soldiers could fight together with Russian troops and “commit cruel violations of human rights”, Lambrecht said after a cabinet meeting in Meseberg, a city north of Berlin.
“We cannot support such a system anymore,” the defence minister said. “That’s why we will stop our (participation in the) EUTM training mission.”
The decision comes a month after Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Malian troops and suspected Russian fighters of executing around 300 civilian men in a central Mali town and more than two months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The West African country’s army denied the HRW allegations. Mali and Russia have previously said the Russians in the country are trainers helping local troops with equipment bought from Russia.
Germany was willing to continue its participation in the MINUSMA peacekeeping mission if the U.N. made sure that shortfalls created by the French withdrawal were filled to ensure the safety of German soldiers, Lambrecht said.
“I expect the U.N. to create conditions for us to continue our involvement in MINUSMA. We are ready to continue the mandate,” Lambrecht said.