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Russian defense delegation holds talks with African allies

High-ranking officials met with the leaders of Mali and Niger, according to the military regimes of both countries

A high-ranking delegation from the Russian Defense Ministry, led by Deputy Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, has visited Niger and Mali, the West African countries announced in separate statements. Both former French colonies have severed military ties with France, accusing Paris of meddling.

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Mali’s interim leader, Assimi Goita, hosted the officials at the presidential palace in the capital, Bamako, on Monday, the former French colony’s military government wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

According to local news agency aBamako, the parties discussed Mali-Russia defense and security cooperation, as well as the situation in the Sahel region, which has been plagued by jihadist violence for decades.

Prior to the meeting with the Goita, Yevkurov and his team held talks with Malian Defense Minister Sadio Camara and air force chief Alou Boi Diarra, the Sahel state’s armed forces said in a press release published on its website on Tuesday.

On Monday, Niger also announced that its transitional leader, Abdourahamane Tchiani, had met the Russian Defense Ministry representatives in Niamey the day before and discussed military, security, and economic cooperation.

“The two parties reaffirmed their common will to consolidate their strategic partnership, based on mutual respect, trust and the search for concerted solutions to regional and international challenges,” the military government said in a statement.

Russia’s relations with the Sahel countries of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso have strengthened in recent years, despite concerns from the US and some of its European Union allies. Western influence has dwindled in all three landlocked countries, with the military authorities expelling French forces that had previously intervened in the fight against jihadist insurgencies in the Sahel region.

American troops in Niger are also set to withdraw by mid-September after Niamey’s leaders canceled a defense deal that had permitted their presence, accusing the US of attempting to dictate who the African country’s allies should be.

In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Malian counterpart Goita committed to intensifying cooperation in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel.

Earlier in January, Niger’s new government, which has been in power since the overthrow of pro-Western President Mohamed Bazoum last July, also agreed to develop military ties with Moscow and collaborate to stabilize the security situation in the region.

June 05, 2024 at 07:49PM
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