Spain receives the last military personnel of the EU contingent in Mali

More than 8,300 Spanish soldiers have participated in this mission since 2013, training Malian troops and contributing to the country's development 
Robles recibe, en la Base Aérea de Torrejón, a los últimos miembros del contingente español, tras la culminación del repliegue de la misión EUTM Mali - Foto: Marco Romero/MDE
Robles receives, at the Torrejón Air Base, the last members of the Spanish contingent, after the completion of the withdrawal of the EUTM Mali mission - Photo: Marco Romero/MDE
  1. Russia and China fill the West's vacuum in the Sahel 

The Spanish Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles, received the last contingent of the European Union mission in Mali (EUTM Mali), made up of 116 Spanish soldiers and 16 soldiers of other European nationalities who have landed at the Torrejón de Ardoz Air Base. 

Robles thanked them for their work and dedication, stressing that "we are proud to have contributed to peace and development thanks to the men and women of the Armed Forces who, once again, have left the Spanish flag flying high with their dedication, empathy and professionalism". 

The Spanish Minister of Defence assured that "they can return home with their heads held high and with the satisfaction of having fulfilled their duty".  "Spain and its Armed Forces are a reference wherever they are present," she concluded, according to an official statement from La Moncloa.  

Since 2013, more than 8,300 Spanish soldiers have participated in this mission led by four generals of the Kingdom. During these years, Spain has contributed to the implementation of 110 projects for the benefit of the Malian civilian population. 

These initiatives include the development of children's education, the implementation of measures to lay the foundations for a better and more prosperous future for Malian women, guaranteeing access to drinking water and improving health services.   

Other objectives of the mission were to train Mali's military, to train its armed forces at all levels and to improve the military education system, as well as to advise and train the G5 Sahel Joint Force Headquarters in a complex regional context marked by the expansion of jihadism.  

As the Moncloa communiqué highlights, "Spain, with its presence in EUTM Mali, has demonstrated its commitment to peace, security and the stability of Malian society and the region". "Likewise, our contingent has managed and delivered dozens of Spanish donations of clothing, non-perishable foodstuffs and sanitary and hygienic material," it adds.

Russia and China fill the West's vacuum in the Sahel 

The end of this mission adds to the progressive withdrawal of the West from the Sahel, a region that in recent years has experienced a series of military-led coups d'état that have given way to dictatorial governments close to Russia, a power that is increasing its influence in the area.  

In addition to Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso - also governed by military juntas - have expressed their rejection of the military presence of Western countries on their territory while strengthening their relations with Russia.   

Similarly, while Moscow is strengthening its military ties, China is positioning itself as a commercial partner of these countries due to Beijing's interest in the Sahel's natural resources.