Mali Commissions Warplanes, Helicopters Acquired From Russia
Mali’s military rulers received more warplanes and helicopters from Russia on Thursday, the latest in a series of deliveries from their new key military and political ally.
Eight planes and two helicopters were counted at a ceremony attended by Russian Ambassador Igor Gromyko and the head of Mali’s military junta, Colonel Asimi Goita.
The Malian military said the shipment included Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft to support ground forces; and Albatros L-39 of Czech design.
Although the L-39 was originally developed for training purposes, it was also used as an attack aircraft.
Bamako has also received the Mi-8, a Soviet-designed Russian transport helicopter that can not only transport troops and equipment, but can also be armed to defend ground forces.
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The tax authorities did not provide a detailed description of the number of aircraft delivered, and although they said they had purchased the weapons, they did not disclose the details of the transactions.
This is the latest in a series of similar Russian shipments of military equipment, followed by others in March and August 2022.
The West African country has been battling a jihadist insurgency and a political and humanitarian crisis since 2012.
After the colonels currently in power launched their coup in 2020, relations with former colonial power France quickly collapsed, and Russia stepped in to fill the void.
Several sources say that since the end of 2021, the military council began sending paramilitary forces from the Russian Wagner Group, which drew criticism from several countries.
Military rulers denied the allegations, saying they were simply rekindling old ties with Russia and its military. Goita also says he is now in the fight against active jihadists in the country, a claim that military experts dispute.
At a ceremony on Thursday, the current commander of the Malian Air Force, General Alou Boi Diarra, hailed the recent deliveries as the final stage in the “unprecedented” modernization of the country’s armed forces.