A typo meant the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) sent sensitive UK emails to a Russian-allied nation. The classified material ended up being sent to Mali, rather than the US where it was intended to go.
The emails were meant to be sent to an address ending in ‘.mil’ denoting the US military. Instead, the ‘i’ was dropped, resulting in them being sent to addresses in Mali.
Until recently, the UK and US were closely aligned with Mali. The UK even sent troops to the country. More recently, however, the military took over and appears to have aligned more closely with Moscow.
Cue MOD embarrassment and back-pedalling. A spokesperson told the press:
We have opened an investigation after a small number of emails were mistakenly forwarded to an incorrect email domain.
We are confident they did not contain any information that could compromise operational security or technical data.
The MOD said that sensitive information “is shared on systems designed to minimise the risk of misdirection”.
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The MoD constantly reviews its processes and is currently undertaking a programme of work to improve information management, data loss prevention, and the control of sensitive information.
The US did it too
Irish news channel RTE reported that the Malian government had recently struck up a grain deal with Russia:
Mali was among the six African countries promised free grain shipments by Russian President Vladimir Putin after the collapse of the Black Sea deal with Ukraine.
Now that the US and UK have pulled out of Mali, Russian mercenary firm Wagner is operating in a counter-insurgency role:
Moscow’s Wagner mercenaries have also been deployed in Mali to fight alongside the army against jihadists
It is also worth noting that the US recently reported making the same email error. But the result was that millions of military emails may have been seen to Mali.
Fuelled by arms stolen during NATO’s 2011 Libyan war, the war in Mali has ground on for over a decade. Now the Wagner Group is operating in the country.
But, as the Intercept pointed out, many of the military officers now working with Wagner are US-trained:
Researchers found that the longtime U.S.-backed Malian military also tortured detainees in an army camp and destroyed and looted civilian property as part of its protracted campaign against militant Islamists.
In fact, US-trained military officers have been involved in coups all over Africa in recent years. In fact, the framing of Mali across the press as a ‘Kremlin ally’ in relation to the email story seems rather odd. Especially, given that UK troops only pulled out in November 2022.Support us and go ad-free
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