Mali has asked private Russian companies to boost security, Russia’s foreign minister confirmed on Saturday, as the Malian leader accused France of abandoning the conflict-ridden country by preparing a large troop drawdown. The AFP news agency reports that European countries have warned the Malian government on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly against hiring paramilitaries from the controversial Wagner group. But with Paris set to reduce its military presence in Mali, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters that the Malian government was turning toward “private Russian companies on a legitimate basis,” and that the Russian government had nothing to do with it.