Mali expects Russia to send shipments of fuel, fertiliser and food worth around $100 million to Mali in the coming weeks, the West African country’s economy minister, Alousseini Sanou, says.
Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed providing the supplies with his Malian counterpart in August, a sign of deepening ties as Mali’s relationship has soured with its longtime ally and former colonial ruler, France.
Speaking on national television from Moscow, Sanou said on Wednesday that Russia was going to send 60,000 tonnes of petroleum products, 30,000 tonnes of fertiliser and 25,000 tonnes of wheat.
Mali’s ruling military government came to power in a 2020 coup and has sparred repeatedly with neighbouring countries and Western powers over election delays, alleged army abuses and cooperation with Russian mercenaries in its fight against an uprising that has raged in Mali since 2012.
Fighters from the Wagner Group, a Kremlin-linked private military company, have been supporting the Malian army since late last year in its fight against groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS).
In October, Putin told Mali’s interim president, Assimi Goita, that Moscow was committed to strengthening cooperation to help root out “terrorist groups” in Mali.
France intervened militarily in Mali in 2013, leading an effort to remove armed groups that had seized control of towns in northern Mali.
The departure of French troops in August raised new concerns about whether those fighters would regain territory as security responsibilities have now fallen on the Malian military and United Nations peacekeepers.