European Union foreign ministers are set to discuss the EU's relations with Mali at a meeting on 21 March. Although there are major differences between member states on the question of whether or not to maintain EU missions in the African country, they will try to find a consensus on the issue.
Deteriorating relations between France and Mali threaten to damage cultural cooperation between the two countries. The first collateral victim could be the Bamako biennial, the largest photo exhibition in Africa, which may not go ahead as planned later this year.
Since Africa Intelligence revealed that Bamako had been waiting more than five months for its ambassador to be accredited in Paris, this diplomatic incident has intruded itself upon the French presidential campaign, leading to heated exchanges between government spokesman Gabriel Attal and the Republican candidate Valérie Pécresse.
The Malian junta and the Russian paramilitary company Wagner are close to an agreement that would provide for the deployment of 500 men in about ten localities. France, bitterly opposed to the arrival of Russian mercenaries, is due to hold a defence council on Mali at the Elysée on 22 December.
Chad's interim leader, who is also the current head of the G5 Sahel of which Mali is a member, is expected in Bamako by the end of the month. He hopes to dissuade coup leader Assimi Goita and the Malian junta from hiring the Russian paramilitary company Wagner.
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.
Discreetly but insistently, France is working with its Western and African partners to prevent the junta going into partnership with Russian paramilitary group Wagner. Meanwhile, ECOWAS, egged on by Macron, is considering slapping sanctions on Mali's new leaders.