[ACCI-CAVIE] Malian Defense Minister Sadio Camara, one of the strongmen of the ruling junta, received new military equipment on March 30, 2022, including two combat helicopters delivered by Russia, an AFP correspondent noted. The issue is monitored by the African Centre for Competitive Intelligence analysts.
The delivery of this equipment is the “fruit of a sincere and very old partnership (Russia-Mali)”, said the Malian army on its website.
The colonels who took power by force in August 2020 in this country in the midst of security turmoil have since turned to Russia and away from France, militarily engaged against the jihadists since 2013. France and its European allies in the Takuba special forces grouping have just announced their military withdrawal from Mali.
Russia had delivered at least four helicopters and weapons to Mali until March 30, 2022. Mali has been hosting large numbers of what the junta says are Russian instructors.
France and its partners denounced the junta’s alleged use of the services of the private Russian security company Wagner, whose actions have been decried. The junta denies this and speaks of an old partnership with the Russian army.
The equipment transported by Russian carrier aircraft and received on March 30, 2022 at the military base at Bamako airport consists of “combat helicopters, (the) latest generation radars and many other materials needed in the fight against terrorism and extremism,” the army said on its website.
Two helicopters and at least five transport trucks were observed. Among the equipment is a 59N6-TE radar, said Colonel Sadio Camara. “This radar is capable of detecting in 3D objects flying at speeds of up to 8,000 km/h,” he said.
“Today we can proudly say that our national army is able to operate autonomously without asking for help from anyone,” he said, referring to the dependence of Malian forces on foreign air assets, particularly French.
No information has been made public about the conditions of acquisition of the equipment.
The Minister of Defence and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Colonel Alou Boï Diarra, made a discreet visit to Russia in early March 2022, in the middle of the Russian-Ukrainian war. The delivery of additional equipment was discussed, two military officials said at the time, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Mali was among the countries that abstained from voting on the two resolutions adopted in March by an overwhelming majority by the UN General Assembly demanding that Russia immediately cease military operations in Ukraine.