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5 May, 2023 17:02

Burkina Faso’s junta leader touts Russia as ‘strategic ally’

Ibrahim Traore said Moscow is a major supplier of military equipment, but denied there is Wagner involvement in the capital
Burkina Faso’s junta leader touts Russia as ‘strategic ally’

Russia has become a strategic ally for Burkina Faso, the junta’s president, Ibrahim Traore, said on Thursday, speaking about the country’s “new forms of cooperation” following the expulsion of French troops.

The departure of the French army” in February “does not mean that France is not an ally,” Traore said in a televised interview cited by Reuters, adding that “we have strategic allies too... Russia, for example, is a strategic ally.”

The West African country terminated a 2018 military agreement that allowed French and Burkinabe troops to fight jihadists together, citing military failures in tackling the security threat, which the UN said has displaced 2.5 million people.

Western nations have repeatedly raised concerns about Russia’s growing influence in Africa’s Sahel and border regions, with Paris blaming Moscow for anti-French sentiment in Burkina Faso and Mali.

According to reports, the private Russian military group Wagner has been involved in training the Burkinabe Army, providing intelligence support, and carrying out combat operations against militants in the country’s north.

The military government’s leader, on the other hand, denied reports of Wagner forces operating in Ouagadougou, saying “our army fights alone.”

He stated that Moscow is a major supplier of military equipment to the country, which has been faced with protracted jihadist insurgencies since 2013, and that he is “satisfied with the cooperation,” which he described as “frank.”

Moscow has also dismissed allegations of Wagner’s presence in Burkina Faso, with Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov calling them unfounded. Russia’s ambassador to the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, Aleksey Saltykov, reaffirmed the Kremlin’s commitment to improving relations with Ouagadougou, where it hopes to reopen its consulate, which was closed in 1992.

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