Russian UN Envoy Says No Claims to French Actions in Mali

UN, January 15 (RIA Novosti) – Russia has no claims to military activities of France in Mali after it joined military operation against the Islamist insurgency in the African country, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said on Tuesday.

Last week France deployed military forces to aid Mali’s government, whose army had been retreating before the attack of armed groups with ties to al-Qaeda.

“France informed us [Russia] about its activities and we have no claims whatsoever,” Churkin said.

The French intervention allowed Mali’s government last Friday to recapture the strategic town of Konna in the country’s central region, taken by Islamists earlier in the week, BBC reported.

“On the whole, the French activities… correspond with the international law, since the use of armed forces was initiated upon the request of the government of Mali,” Churkin added.

The French involvement was endorsed on Friday by the ECOWAS, a bloc comprising 15 West African countries, including Mali. The bloc said on Saturday it would soon act out a UN Security Council’s resolution from December and deploy its own armed peacekeepers in Mali.

Mali, a French colony until 1960, is in turmoil since last March’s military coup, which triggered an uprising of separatist Tuareg tribes that seized control of the country’s south.

The Tuaregs were soon suppressed by the better armed al-Qaeda affiliates who overtook control of the northern region, imposing Sharia law and destroying historical heritage sites in Timbuktu, and later started a southward advance.

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