Russia’s presence in West Africa is “neither constructive nor helpful” and Britain is concerned about the Russian mercenaries active in the region, a minister tells the BBC.
UK Development Minister Andrew Mitchell, who is visiting the region, says his nation is committed to helping West African coastal countries halt the spread of militants from the Sahel as well as ensuring general security.
But he has also expressed concerns that it has been “very difficult” to discuss security matters with the Burkina Faso government.
Mr Mitchell has been visiting a military base in northern Ghana to assess the country’s ability to ward off the jihadists.
It comes after Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo said Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group have been operating near the country’s northern border with Burkina Faso.
He described Wagner’s presence as “distressing” during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week.
He alleged that the military junta in Burkina Faso had hired Wagner mercenaries to help fight extremists and awarded them a mining concession as a form of payment. Burkina Faso has not commented on the claim.
In recent weeks, hundreds of people fleeing militants attacks in Burkina Faso have crossed the border into northern Ghana.