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Mali receives helicopters and weapons from Russia

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The supply of army gear from Moscow comes amid tense relations between Bamako and key ally Paris.

A cargo airplane has delivered 4 helicopters, weapons and ammunition from Russia to Mali, in accordance with the military-led authorities within the West African nation.

Interim Defence Minister Sadio Camara mentioned late on Thursday Mali had acquired the plane in a contract agreed in December 2020 to assist its armed forces of their battle – alongside French, European and United Nations troops – with fighters linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda.

“Mali purchased these helicopters from the Russia Federation, a pleasant nation with which Mali has all the time maintained a really fruitful partnership,” he informed native media on the tarmac after the airplane landed within the capital, Bamako.

He added that the weapons and ammunition have been items from Russia.

The supply comes at a second of tense relations between Mali and its key army associate France over reviews Bamako may recruit mercenaries from a shadowy Russian army group as Paris reshapes its army mission within the area.

Diplomatic and safety sources have informed information companies Mali’s military-dominated authorities is near recruiting the controversial Wagner Group. France has launched a diplomatic drive to thwart it, saying such an association is incompatible with a continued French presence.

France, which has deployed greater than 5,000 troopers within the Sahel area underneath its Barkhane mission however has pledged a serious troop drawdown, has warned Mali that hiring Wagner fighters would isolate the nation internationally.

The relations between the 2 international locations have sharply deteriorated following two army coups in Bamako since August 2020, in addition to after France’s choice earlier this yr to revamp its army operations within the area.

In Might, the Malian colonels who had agreed to share energy with civilians after overthrowing President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita detained civilian politicians and took over the management of the nation once more.

Paris strongly denounced the newest energy seize and pushed the army rulers to make sure a modicum of transition. Though the colonels have pledged to stay to the 18-month timetable for the civilian transition, with fewer than six months to go earlier than promised elections, doubts and distrust are deepening.

Germany, which additionally has troops in Mali, additionally says it would rethink its deployment ought to the Malian authorities strike a cope with Wagner.

Final week, Russia’s International Minister Sergey Lavrov mentioned Mali approached personal Russian firms to spice up safety within the conflict-torn nation, including that the Kremlin was not concerned.

Lavrov’s feedback got here after European Union international coverage chief Josep Borrell warned that the bloc’s ties with Mali may very well be significantly affected if it permits Wagner contractors to function within the nation.

On Saturday, Mali’s interim Prime Minister Choguel Maiga accused France of abandoning his nation in a speech on the United Nations.

Responding to this cost for the primary time, President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday questioned the legitimacy of the Malian authorities overseeing a transition to elections after two coups in simply over a yr.

“What the Malian prime minister mentioned is unacceptable. It’s a disgrace. And that dishonours what isn’t even a authorities,” he informed Radio France Worldwide.

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