Bamako and Moscow are only involved in a state-to-state partnership and Russia is only supporting the country's national defence and security forces, Mali says.

Mali is the epicentre of an insurgency that began in the north of the country in 2012 and spread three years later to neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.
Mali is the epicentre of an insurgency that began in the north of the country in 2012 and spread three years later to neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso. (AFP)

Mali's government has denied any deployment of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group in the country.

The denial came following concerns raised by a group of 15 Western powers involved in the fight against militants in the Sahel country.

The government "gives a formal denial to these baseless allegations" of "an alleged deployment of elements from a private security company in Mali," it said in a statement released late on Friday.

Mali's government "demands that proof be brought to it by independent sources" and said "Russian trainers" were in Mali as part of strengthening the operational capacity of the national defence and security forces.

Bamako was "only involved in a state-to-state partnership with the Russian Federation, its historical partner", said the statement signed by government spokesperson Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga.

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Growing concern

A group of 15 Western powers on Thursday expressed anger that Russian mercenaries working for the controversial Wagner group had started to deploy in Mali, accusing Moscow of providing material backing for the fighters.

The nations involved in the fight against insurgency in Mali, including Canada, Germany, France and Britain, said they "firmly condemn the deployment of mercenary troops on Malian territory".

It was one of the first official acknowledgements by Western capitals that the deployment of fighters has begun in Mali after months of warnings to the Bamako government.

READ MORE: EU slaps sanctions on Russia's notorious mercenary group Wagner

Source: TRTWorld and agencies