The Swedish government will withdraw humanitarian aid to Mali because of its pro-Russian positions and support for the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Swedish Minister for Foreign Trade and International Development Cooperation Johan Forssel said to the TV4 media outlet on Jan. 5.
The West African nation of Mali has been the subject of a significant Russian influence campaign since the Malian army overthrew the government in a coup in 2021. The Wagner mercenary group, headed by the late Yevgeny Prigozhin, was particularly active in Mali, and has been accused of perpetrating war crimes and widespread looting.
"When we cooperate with other countries, we also want those countries to cooperate with Sweden, but Mali's military junta instead turns to Russia and supports its full-scale war against Ukraine," Forssel said.
Mali has abstained from votes on UN resolutions condemning Russia's full-scale war, demanding Russian troops leave Ukraine, and denouncing the illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory. Mali also voted against a resolution to remove Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Forssel said the conditions for distributing aid are better in countries other than Mali.
Sweden has provided Mali with SEK 3.5 billion ($388 million) in aid over the past 10 years. Funding for humanitarian aid will cease, Forssel said, but emergency aid, such as food, water, and medicine, will continue.
In general, Sweden is reconfiguring its approach toward international aid to "ensure that countries we cooperate with do not undermine international law or support Russia's full-scale offensive war against Ukraine."