Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, concluded on Tuesday, February 7, a “friendship and work visit” a day in Bamako, Mali, where each side seems to have nothing but reason to be satisfied. Carried out as part of a tour of the African continent which took him first to South Africa, Eswatini (ex-Swaziland), Angola and Eritrea, this first trip by a head of Russian diplomacy in Mali, despite the long tradition of cooperation between the two countries (notably under the presidency of Modibo Keïta, from 1960 to 1968), had a particular symbolic value. Bamako has indeed been the most incandescent point of Russian presence in Africa for a little over a year.
For the Malian coup colonels, the arrival of Mr. Lavrov is an obvious mark of consideration, which testifies to their opinion of the solidity of their relationship with Moscow, which has become their first partner since their second coup in May 2021. and the break with France that it brought about. For Russia, this visit makes it possible to amplify its regional seduction operation at a time when the junta in power in neighboring Burkina Faso is showing signs of attraction for the pro-Russian turn made by Bamako and when the promises of the Kremlin find an echo. growing in Africa, primarily in the Sahel. A significant image success at a time when the United States, like China, is making efforts to woo the continent in a context of restructuring international relations.
Displaying a perfect complicity with his counterpart Abdoulaye Diop, who did not fail to thank his guest for his support “against terrorists and their foreign sponsors”Mr. Lavrov placed, as soon as he got off the plane, the foundations of the friendship between the two countries under the sign of “the defense of justice on the international scene, aggressively trampled under foot”. During a joint press conference, the head of Malian diplomacy, for his part, emphasized “comparative advantage” of “this cooperation which is done on the basis of requests” of his country and without the will to go up “a part of the Malians against the others”. Everyone will have recognized the targets here: Westerners in the broad sense, France in particular.
Wagner would have between 1,500 and 2,000 men in Mali
If the Russo-Malian partnerships in the fields of agriculture, mines, infrastructures or energy remain to be built, military cooperation between the two countries is in full swing. In recent months, Moscow has delivered combat helicopters, fighter planes – including Sukhoi 25s – surface-to-air missiles and radar systems to Bamako.
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