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Mali's Foreign Minister Says Security Cooperation With Russia Giving 'Impressive Results'

© AFP 2023 / HABIBOU KOUYATE Armed soldiers in Mali's capital Bamako
Armed soldiers in Mali's capital Bamako - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.05.2022
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Mali has been able to establish independent aerial combat capacity and start a counteroffensive against terrorists thanks to security cooperation with Russia and import of Russian military equipment, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told Sputnik.

"I must tell you that our cooperation with Russia is already yielding impressive good results. Today, thanks to Russian help, Mali can independently conduct reconnaissance, as well as attack from the air. The military operations that are currently underway are fully coordinated by the Malian armed forces," Diop said.

The bilateral military-technical cooperation has continued for years and was renewed in 2019 in an agreement under which Mali purchases military equipment, aircraft, weapons and other equipment from Russia, as well as relevant technical support and expertise.
Import of weapons from Russia has enabled Mali to change its defence strategy and launch counteroffensives against terrorists almost throughout the entire country, the minister said.

"For some time we remained on the ground, in the camps, and the terrorists attacked us. Now that the Malian army is on the offensive, our troops have become more mobile thanks to the aviation that helps the soldiers move. We are advancing, launching attacks, and thanks to these large-scale operations, the terrorist group is being hit," Diop specified.

Following negotiations with Diop in Moscow last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow will continue to support Mali in increasing the combat capability of its armed forces, since Russia is interested that crises in Africa be resolved as soon as possible.
© Sputnik /  / Go to the mediabankTroops in Bamako, Mali. Tuesday, August 18, 2020.
Troops in Bamako, Mali. Tuesday, August 18, 2020. - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.05.2022
Troops in Bamako, Mali. Tuesday, August 18, 2020.
Russia's assistance was also instrumental in stabilising the security situation in the country for thousands of Malian refugees to return home, Diop said.

"During the three to four months of the operation, more than 100,000 people were able to return home. Markets have already opened in many settlements, people are leading their usual way of life, cultivating the fields", Diop said.

Diop's visit to Russia took place against the backdrop of an attempted military coup in Mali. According to the Malian Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, a group of the military, backed by a "Western state," attempted a coup in the African nation on 12 May but were stopped by the rest of the army.
In May of last year, the Malian armed forces led by then-Vice President Assimi Goita removed interim President Bah Ndaw and acting Prime Minister Moctar Ouane from office after accusing them of breaking transition rules. A military council took control of the country and announced its intention to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in 2022. In June 2021, the Constitutional Court of Mali declared Goita the interim president.
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