BAMAKO – Mali’s interim Defense Minister Sadio Camara said a Mali cargo plane carried four helicopters, arms and ammunition from Russia to Mali late on Thursday.
He said Mali had purchased the helicopters in a contract agreed in December 2020 to support its armed forces in their battles with French, European and United Nations troops along with rebels linked to the ISIS terrorist group and al Qaeda.
“Mali bought these helicopters from the Russian Federation, a friendly country with which Mali has always maintained a very fruitful partnership,” he told local media on the tarmac after the plane landed in the capital Bamako. Russia.
The delivery comes at a moment of strained relations between Mali and its major military partner France, over reports that Bamako may recruit Russian mercenaries as Paris reshapes its 5,000-strong counter-terrorism mission in the region.
Diplomatic and security sources have told Reuters that Mali’s years-old military force is close to recruiting the Russian Wagner Group, and that France has launched a diplomatic campaign to thwart it, saying such an arrangement continues to be a French force. Incompatible with appearance.
Meanwhile, Mali’s prime minister accused Paris of abandoning Bamako in a speech at the United Nations on Saturday.
Responding to the allegation for the first time, President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday questioned the legitimacy of Malian officials overseeing the transition to elections after two coups in just over a year.
“What the Malian Prime Minister said is unacceptable. Shame. And that insults what is not even a government, ”he told Radio France International.
Reuters has been unable to reach the Wagner group for comment.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times