The Malian government just launched an audit of the country's gold mining sector. Although the Canadian and Australian companies which dominate the sector are not expecting to be expropriated for the benefit of the Wagner group, they do predict the state will seek a greater share of their revenues.
In its efforts to gain sway in the Sahel, Russia is increasingly forging links with Burkina Faso's political and civil society circles. In so doing, it enjoys the unprecedented support of Wahhabist organisations. So far, the government has turned down Wagner's advances.
Following the lead of ECOWAS, the EU is gearing up to impose sanctions on the regime in Bamako, which has postponed the presidential election and welcomed Russian paramilitaries from Wagner onto Malian soil. The EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell is due to hold a virtual meeting with the foreign ministers of the G5 Sahel countries on 26 January to discuss the situation in Mali.
Germany's MINUSMA contingents stationed in Gao will be taking delivery of several heavy-lift transport helicopters, thereby reducing their reliance on private contractors and affording Berlin more flexibility to follow its own path in this troubled region.
As negotiations between the Malian junta and Wagner step up a notch, Paris is making last-ditch efforts to prevent the arrival of Russian paramilitaries in Bamako. Emmanuel Macron gave Vladimir Putin a stern warning during a phone call last month.