London – The Russian presence in Africa is significant as is the evolution of the close collaboration between Mali and Russia.
Last year, Russian armaments arrived in Mali, including planes and helicopters, presented to the press with great fanfare.
These consisted of four L-39 advanced trainer and attack aircraft, one Su-25 attack aircraft, one Mi-24P helicopter, one Mi-8 transport helicopter and one Spanish-built Airbus C295 tactical transport aircraft.
Mali thus strengthened its air force by turning to Russia, considering that the Soviet Union had already been its main supplier of armaments in the 1970s.
The two countries, thanks to the French disengagement, have intended to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the commercial, economic and other sectors such as the military.
An agreement has been found to supply Mali with Russian food, fertilizers and fuel.
France has left and Russia has entered Mali with full rights.
But all the problems remained.
The previous regime, ousted by the coup plotters, was accused of inefficiency in the face of the jihadist threat that has haunted the country for decades.
In February during his trip to Mali the Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has promised continued military support for Mali, which has been battling a jihadist insurgency since 2012.
Mali’s military government has beaten away criticism of this shift to Russia.
“We will no longer justify our choice of partner. Russia is here on demand by Mali and responds efficiently to our strategic needs,” Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop said during a joint press briefing with his Russian counterpart.
Mali’s military junta has dismissed reports about the country’s deteriorating security situation as “fake news”.
It has lionised Moscow for empowering the Malian armed forces after despatching heavy military equipment to Bamako on several occasions since the army seized power in August 2020.
These include Sukhoi fighter jets, as well as surveillance and combat helicopters.