According to the AFP, the military rulers in Mali have received more warplanes and helicopters from Russia, the latest in a string of deliveries from its new top military and political ally. At a ceremony attended by Russian ambassador Igor Gromyko and Mali’s junta commander, Colonel Assimi Goita, eight planes and two helicopters were counted.
The consignment contained Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes geared to support ground troops as well as the Czech-built Albatros L-39.
While originally developed for training, L-39s have also been utilised as assault aircraft.
Bamako also acquired Mi-8s, a Soviet-designed Russian transport helicopter capable of carrying troops and equipment as well as defending ground forces.
Officials in Mali did not provide a comprehensive breakdown of how many of each aircraft had been supplied, and while they claim to have purchased the weapons, no specifics of the transactions have been revealed.
This is the latest in a sequence of comparable Russian military equipment supplies, following others in March and August of 2022. Since 2012, the West African country has been battling a terrorist insurgency as well as a political and humanitarian catastrophe. After the present colonels conducted their revolution in 2020 coup, relations with former colonial power France swiftly deteriorated, and Russia stepped in to fill the hole.
According to multiple accounts, the junta began bringing in paramilitaries from the Russian outfit Wagner in late 2021, drawing concern from a number of countries. The military leadership have refuted the charges, claiming that it has simply re-established long-established ties with Russia and its troops.
At the ceremony on Thursday, Mali’s current airforce leader, General Alou Boi Diarra, praised the recent deliveries as the latest stage in the country’s extraordinary modernization of its forces.
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