According to a Kremlin statement, Russian President, Vladimir Putin has discussed possible deliveries of food, fertilizer and fuel to Mali in a phone call on Wednesday with the African country’s interim leader, Assimi Goita.
Goita said on Twitter that the two leaders discussed Russia’s support for Mali’s political transition.
Goita’s junta came to power in a coup two years ago and has entered into repeated clashes with neighboring countries and Western powers over electoral delays, alleged abuses by the army and collaboration with Russian mercenaries in the fight against an Islamist insurgency.
The West African country has deepened its ties with Soviet-era Russia as relations with its longtime ally and former colonial ruler France soured this year.
“We discussed the Russian Federation’s support for Mali’s political transition and praised the quality of our partnership, which respects the sovereignty of #Mali and the aspirations of its people,” Goita tweeted.
France announced in February that it was withdrawing its troops from Mali after nearly a decade fighting insurgents, some with ties to al-Qaeda and Islamic State, who have since spread to the Sahel region.
Since late last year, fighters from the Wagner Group, a private military company linked to the Kremlin, have supported the Malian army in its struggle.