By Elena Teslova
MOSCOW (AA) - The Russian foreign minister on Tuesday said Moscow will continue its assistance to Mali aimed at increasing the country's combat effectiveness.
Speaking at a news conference with his Malian counterpart Abdoulaye Diop in the capital Bamako, Sergey Lavrov said the support concerns both training of the law enforcement and deliveries of military equipment.
"We will now plan additional steps in the field of education through military higher educational institutions and in the supply of weapons and military equipment," Lavrov said.
The minister refuted claims that Russia is undermining the European influence in Africa in general and France's in particular, pointing out that Paris itself made a decision to withdraw its troops from Mali, and to end Barkhane anti-terror operation, and the EU followed the lead.
The diplomat added that in these conditions, the Malian authorities had to seek other options, and that is how cooperation with Russia started.
Lavrov advised "former colonizers" to forget how they "seized and exploited" African territories.
"We believe, together with our Malian friends, with the overwhelming majority of other African countries, that the former metropolises should forget about how they seized and exploited these territories, this continent, they should get used to the fact that the world has changed," he stressed.
The top diplomat said the Russian-Malian military cooperation "received a new development" last year, and at the beginning of this year, a large batch of Russian aviation equipment was sent to Mali.
According to Lavrov, using the Russian aircraft, the national army of Mali managed to conduct successful operations in the fight against terrorists.
"The second batch of aircraft for these purposes (fight against terrorists) was delivered quite recently, on Jan. 19," he said.
The minister also pledged Russia's support in fight against terrorism to Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad, the Sahara-Sahel region in general and to the coastal countries of the Gulf of Guinea.
Apart from military cooperation, the official expects the start "in the very near future" of deliveries of wheat, fertilizers and petroleum products from Russia to Mali.
Commenting on calls by UN experts to investigate accusations of the Malian authorities in committing military crimes, Lavrov said they have no authority to consider any military crimes no matter by whom they are committed.
"Only the UN Security Council has such authority," he said.
Responding to remarks by EU top diplomat Josep Borrell who made some denigrating comments about Russia's cooperation with African countries, Lavrov said Borrell does not hide his "racist nature," reminding the EU top diplomat's remarks in which he called Europe "a garden" and the rest of the world a "jungle."
For his part, Diop said Mali will not support any sanctions against any country, and called on the international community to reconsider the attitude to restrictions as they "change nothing."
The government of Mali wants to develop autonomous, independent capabilities of the country, and cooperation with France did not meet national interests, he said.
As for Russia, it "gave a very effective response" to Mali's requests, and therefore the government decided to further strengthen cooperation, the minister added.
He expressed hope that the forthcoming second Russia-Africa summit, scheduled for July in Saint Petersburg, "will further deepen bilateral trade and economic cooperation."