Bamako — A freighter delivered four helicopters, weapons and ammunition from Russia to Mali late Thursday, said Mali’s interim defense minister, Sadio Kamala.
He said Mali purchased a helicopter under a contract agreed in December 2020 and assisted the troops in the fight against French, European, and UN forces with ISIS terrorist groups and al-Qaeda-related militants. ..
“Mali bought these helicopters from the Russian Federation, a friendly country where Mali has always maintained a very fruitful partnership,” he told local media at the parking lot after the plane landed in the capital Bamako. rice field. Russia.
Between Mali and its major military partner France over reports that Bamako may hire Russian mercenaries as Paris restructures its more than 5,000 counterterrorism missions in the region. Delivery takes place at the moment of a tense relationship.
Diplomatic and security sources told Reuters that Mali’s military junta a year ago was approaching the adoption of Russia’s Wagner group, and France launched a diplomatic movement to thwart it.
Meanwhile, Mali’s prime minister accused Paris of abandoning Bamako in a speech at the United Nations on Saturday.
President Emmanuel Macron responded to the accusation for the first time on Thursday, questioning the legitimacy of the Mali authorities overseeing the transition to elections after two coups over a year.
“I can’t accept what the Prime Minister of Mali said, which is a shame, and it disgraces what isn’t even the government,” he told Radio France Internationale.
Reuters was unable to ask the Wagner Group for comment.