Paris has begun a diplomatic drive to prevent the military junta in Mali from enacting the deal, which would permit Russian private military contractors, the Wagner Group, to operate in the former French colony.
A European source who tracks West Africa and a security source in the region said at least 1,000 mercenaries could be involved. Two other sources believed the number was lower but did not provide figures.
Four sources said the Wagner Group would be paid about 6 billion CFA francs ($10.8 million) a month for its services. One security source working in the region said the mercenaries would train the Malian military and protect senior officials.
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