Mali Gets More Warplanes, Helicopters From Russia

Mali’s military rulers received more warplanes and helicopters from Russia Thursday, an AFP correspondent noted, the latest in a series of deliveries from its new top military and political ally.

AFP counted eight planes and two helicopters at a ceremony attended by Russian ambassador Igor Gromyko and the head of Mali’s junta, Colonel Assimi Goita.

Mali’s military said the shipment included Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes designed to support ground troops; and the Czech-designed Albatros L-39.

L-39s, while initially designed for training purposes, have also been used as attack aircraft.

Bamako also received Mi-8s, a Soviet-designed Russian transport helicopter that, as well as transporting troops and equipment, can be fitted with weapons to defend ground troops.

Malian officials did not give a detailed breakdown of how many of each aircraft had been delivered, and while they say they purchased the weapons, they have released no details of the transactions.

This is the latest in a series of similar Russian deliveries of military equipment, following others in March and August, 2022.

The west African country has been fighting a jihadist insurgency as well as a political and humanitarian crisis since 2012.

After the colonels currently in power staged their 2020 coup, relations with former colonial power France quickly broke down, and Russia has stepped in to fill the void.

Multiple sources say the junta started bringing in paramilitaries from the Russian group Wagner from late 2021, provoking criticism from several countries.

The military rulers have denied the allegations, saying it has simply revived longstanding links with Russia and its army. It also says it is now taking the fight to the jihadists active in the country, a claim disputed by military experts.

At Thursday’s ceremony, Mali’s current airforce chief General Alou Boi Diarra hailed the latest deliveries as the latest stage in the “unprecedented” modernization of the country’s forces.

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