Mali Bolsters Military Arsenal with New Warplanes, Drones Courtesy of Russia, Turkiye
Malian-Russian military cooperation has been deepening since late 2021 given the West African nation's war on terrorists and drug traffickers, and the French troop pullout with the security crisis persisting in the country after France's ten-year military presence there.
Mali received on Thursday a new batch of combat aircraft from Russia, along with new drones from Turkiye to boost the country's military arsenal amid the ongoing war against terrorist groups.
A delivery ceremony took place at the Presidential Pavilion at President Modibo Keita International Airport in Bamako and was attended by Malian interim President Colonel Assimi Goita, Prime Minister of Transition Choguel Kokalla Maiga, Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs Colonel Sadio Camara, along with the ambassadors of Russia and Turkiye.
According to Mali's air force chief, General Alou Boi Diarra, around 20 Russian fighter jets and a dozen Turkish drones have been received.
"These new weapon systems composed of several Bayraktar TB2 type drones and L-39 ALBATROS fighter planes are the fruit of the partnership between Mali and the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkiye," said Camara, adding that Moscow and Ankara are "reliable and sincere partners of Mali."
Defense Minister Camara added that the new acquisitions would contribute not only to improving the Malian Armed Forces strike power, but also to the effectiveness of its intelligence.
"These acquisitions are in addition to those already received, in particular transport and combat equipment," the minister said.
He pointed that the goal of obtaining this new military equipment is "to respond effectively to the new strategy adopted by the obscurantist forces," in particular, in terms of intelligence.
Colonel Camara took aim at terrorist groups, linked to Daesh* and al-Qaeda*, warning that "their actions of harassment will not last long, since they will be hunted down and sent to eternal rest."
Since 2011, the Sahel region, where Mali is located, has been highly destabilized by terrorists and organized criminals. In 2014, France launched a military operation called Barkhane as a follow-up to a 2013 operation known as Serval in Sahel under the pretext of fighting terrorism. However, in 2022, the Malian authorities accused Paris of supporting the terrorists and demanded that French troops leave Malian soil, and just several months later, Paris terminated the Barkhane operation.
In February, during a visit to Mali, which has been battling a jihadist insurgency since 2012, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov promised continued military support to Mali that has materialized since the end of 2021 through arms deliveries and the deployment of military instructors from the Russian Armed Forces to train local troops.
Deliveries of Russian military equipment to Mali took place in March and August 2022, as well as in January 2023. The January cargo included a Su-25 attack aircraft designed to support ground troops; five Albatros L-39 aircraft and two Mi-8 helicopters.
* Daesh and al-Qaeda are terrorist organizations banned in Russia and many other countries around the world.
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