The head of American diplomacy, Anthony Blinken, warned in an interview with the BBC that the Wagner mercenary organization is profiting from the instability caused by the military coup in Niger, as it has already reached neighboring Mali.

The US Secretary of State said, however, that he did not believe Wagner was responsible for the coup that ousted Niger’s president-elect, Mohamed Bazoum.

“I believe that what happened and is still happening in Niger was not orchestrated by Russia or Wagner but (…) they tried to take advantage. Everywhere Wagner went, death, destruction and exploitation followed,” he added.

In African countries, Wagner proposes a “list of services” to regimes in difficulty. In Mali and the Central African Republic it protects those in power, offers training to the military and even legal advice on changing the mining code or revising the Constitution. In return, it exploits local wealth-producing sources, mainly gold mines and other minerals.

“The entire central Sahel region could come under the influence of Russia through the Wagner organization, whose brutal terrorism has been clearly demonstrated in Ukraine,” President Bazum wrote in an op-ed published last week in the Washington Post.

A senior US official said yesterday from Niamey that “the people who made this decision (to stage a coup) understand very well the dangers to their national sovereignty of an invitation to Wagner.”