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Mali’s foreign minister Abdoulaye Diop has met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, a meeting that cast light on France’s role in the former colony.
Sergei Lavrov accused France of France of having a “colonial mentality” towards Mali.
France’s “dissatisfaction with the intent of Malian leadership to seek help from external security forces is nothing other than a recurrence of colonial mentality,” Lavrov told reporters.
He warned against the “real danger of enclaves of anarchy appearing where fighters of illegal armed groups will act freely”.
“This threatens its territorial integrity of the country and we have already said this several times to our French colleagues,” Lavrov said. “We understand but we do not appreciate the attempts of France and other EU countries to claim a dominant role in Africa and other regions,” Lavrov added.
Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop in the press briefing with Lavrov reiterated that its foreign policy has changed with some of its partners
“Every day, there are attempts to make our lives difficult, because the only problem that we have is that Malians have decided to take their destiny into their own hands, they decided to manage their country according to their own vision. I believe that certain of our partners have not yet realised that things have changed.” Diop told reporters.
Meanwhile, Moscow says it is ready “to increase the combat capabilities of the Malian armed forces”, particularly in the training of soldiers and law enforcement.
Lavrov assured that Moscow will continue to deliver mineral fertiliser, petroleum products and wheat to Mali amid growing concerns of a global food crisis.
In February, France announced a pullout of its forces from Mali after once-close ties between Bamako and Paris soured.
Disgruntled officers seized power in August 2020, toppling Mali’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Tensions rose to near-breaking point after the junta brought in paramilitaries that France and others say are mercenaries from the controversial Wagner group.
Reputed to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Wagner and its mercenaries are suspected of abuses in Mali, Libya and Syria.