Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo says his neighbour Burkina Faso has "reached an arrangement" with the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, a statement the government in Ouagadougou declined to comment Thursday.
"Burkina Faso has now made an arrangement to, like Mali, use Wagner forces. I believe a mine in southern Burkina has been allocated to them as a form of payment for their services," he said during a meeting in the United States with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
According to the Ghanaian head of state, "Russian mercenaries are at the northern border" of Ghana, which is "particularly worrying".
"We have no reaction. I leave him the responsibility for what he said," replied to AFP the spokesman for the Burkinabe government Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo.
In several French-speaking African countries, Moscow is conducting an active influence campaign, particularly on social networks, and enjoys growing popular support when France, the former colonial power, is increasingly vilified.
Several countries accuse the junta in power in Mali of having recourse to the services of Wagner, who is reputed to be close to the Moscow regime, which Bamako denies.
The question of a possible rapprochement with Russia has also arisen in Burkina since the Sept. 30 coup, the second in eight months, which brought Captain Ibrahim Traoré to power, while the country has struggled to cope with recurrent deadly jihadist attacks since 2015.
On Monday, Burkina Faso's Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyelem de Tembela met in Moscow with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov to discuss "priority issues of strengthening relations" between the two countries, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement.
Asked about the trip, the Burkinabe government spokesman did not wish to comment.
Mr. Kyelem de Tembela had said in late October that he would not rule out re-examining his country's "relations" with Russia.
"We will try, as much as possible, to diversify our partnership relations until we find the right formula for the interests of Burkina Faso. But there will be no question of letting ourselves be dominated by a partner, whoever it may be," he said in mid-November.
On Thursday evening, the head of US diplomacy reiterated his fears about the Russian group.
"As soon as Wagner deploys, countries are in a weaker, poorer, less secure and less independent position," Antony Blinken warned at a press conference at the close of the three-day U.S.-Africa summit in Washington.
"Our African partners are telling us that they don't want to see their resources exploited, they don't want their human rights abused, they don't want their governance undermined, so at the end of the day, they really don't want Wagner," he added.