Mali’s military government on Tuesday received five military jets and a combat helicopter from Russia, which has become a close ally in its fight against a long-running extremist insurgency, reported The Africa News.
Assimi Goita, the head of the military junta, joined Russian diplomats at the handing over ceremony which was held at the presidential hall of the Bamako presidential hall. The fleet includes L-39 and Sukhoi-25 jets as well as Mi-24P helicopter gunships.
This is the latest batch of deliveries under close ties between the two countries that have been forged since the Sahel state underwent a coup in August 2020.
During the ceremony, Malian Defense Minister Sadio Camara paid tribute to what he called Mali’s “win-win partnership with the Russian Federation.”
He said the new deliveries will strengthen the African country’s reconnaissance and attack capabilities. The military junta did not disclose about the conditions for acquiring the gunships. Previous Russian arms deliveries made public this year, were helicopters and surveillance radars as well as mobile radar systems.
Mali has witnessed two military coups since August 2020, when the military ousted elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. A second de-facto coup took place in May 2021, when Goita pushed out an interim civilian government and took over the presidency.
Amid pressure from West African neighbours in the wake of two coups, Mali’s ruling military junta in early July agreed to a new electoral law and a timetable that includes a presidential election in February 2024.
The United Nations and France had deployed forces in Mali and the Sahel region since 2013 to deter Islamic insurgency active in the area. However, France and its allies announced their departure from the country after two coups in 2020 and 2021 put a new military junta into power.
The junta has progressively grown closer to Moscow through military cooperation agreements. AS per reports, the Russian paramilitary organization Wagner Group has been active in Mali since September 2021.