The interim leader of Mali, Assimi Goita, and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone about the possibility of sending food, fertilizer, and fuel to the African nation.
Goita tweeted that the two presidents discussed Russia’s assistance in Mali’s democratic transition.
The junta in Goita, which took control in a coup two years ago, has regularly clashed with neighbors and Western powers over the postponement of elections, alleged abuses by the army, and collaboration with Russian mercenaries in its war against an Islamist insurgency.
As its relationship with its longtime friend and former colonial power, France, worsened this year, the West African nation has strengthened its Soviet-era connections to Russia.
“We discussed the support of the Russian Federation for Mali’s political transition and I praised the quality of our partnership, which respects the sovereignty of #Mali and the aspirations of its population,” Goita tweeted.
France announced in February it was pulling its troops out of Mali after nearly a decade there fighting insurgents, some with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State, which have since spread across the Sahel region.
Fighters from the Wagner Group, a Kremlin-linked private military company, have been supporting the Malian army in its fight since late last year.