Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visits Mali in sign of deepening ties

Sergey Lavrov in Mali
Sergey Lavrov in Mali Copyright AP/Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service
Copyright AP/Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service
By Euronews with AFP
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Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov vowed to continue helping Bamako improve its military capabilities on a visit to Mali on Tuesday.

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Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on a visit to Mali on Tuesday said Moscow would continue to help Bamako improve its military capabilities.

Mali's junta leaders want Russia’s help to battle an Islamist insurgency that remains entrenched despite years of fighting.

Since taking control of Mali, the military junta led by Colonel Assimi Goita has embraced Russian support to aid its anti-jihadist fight, after evicting the forces of former colonial ruler France.

"We are grateful to our Malian friends for supporting Russian initiatives on many issues that are on the agenda of the world organisation, and which are becoming increasingly important," Lavrov said at a press conference.

"I'm referring to the inadmissibility of glorifying Nazism, the inadmissibility of the start of an arms race in outer space, and the need to abandon the placement of weapons in outer space."

Human rights concerns

Mali has already received planes and attack helicopters from Moscow, as well as several hundred Russian soldiers described by Mali's leaders as instructors helping reinforce its defence and sovereignty.

Western officials and some rights groups have said the fighters were actually paramilitaries with the Wagner Group, who had been accused of brutal tactics and rights abuses elsewhere in Africa.

Lavrov's visit to Mali comes amid increasing concerns by Western countries about the growing partnership between Moscow and Bamako and the alleged human rights abuses committed by the mercenaries.

AP Photo
Malians demonstrate against France and in support of Russia on the 60th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Mali in 1960, in Bamako, Mali, Sept. 22, 2020.AP Photo

Both the Russian Foreign Minister and his Malian counterpart Abdoulaye Diop have dismissed efforts by the United Nations to investigate the alleged abuses in Mali.

"As for some UN experts who are doing some research on alleged war crimes by the private military company, Wagner," Lavrov said.

"I am not aware of any UN experts who would be empowered to consider any aspect of war crimes, whoever committed them."

It is his third trip to Africa since July. He has now left for Mauritania and then Sudan, as part of a bid to expand Russia's presence on the continent amid broad international isolation since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

For more watch Euronews' report in the video above.

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