2 Apr 2013 12:02

Mali govt seeks to buy aircraft, armored personnel carriers from Russia - newspaper

MOSCOW. April 2 (Interfax) - The Malian government and Russian state owned arms trader Rosoboronexport could soon sign contracts on the delivery of Russian-made combat and transport helicopters, armored personnel carriers, small arms and ammunition to the African country, the Vedomosti newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The Russian weapons requested by Mali's government will be given to its soldiers in the north of country, where the Malian Armed Forces, as well as soldiers from France and a number of African states are fighting Islamist militants, a Rosoboronexport source told Vedomosti.

The weapons sought by the Malian authorities include Mil Mi-35 and Mi-17 helicopters, combat and transport airplanes, BTR-80 armored personnel carriers, missile defense radars, small arms and ammunition, the source said.

Mali has also requested maintenance services and spare parts for Soviet-era military hardware such as T-55 and PT-76 tanks and BRDM-2 armored personnel carriers, the source said. But Russia's possibilities to maintain these outdated military hardware items are restricted today, he added.

"The French side is highly unlikely to object to equipping the Malian Army with Russian-made weapons because these weapons are more familiar to the Malian Army, where some 7,000 people serve in the Land Forces and another 400 in the Air Force," he said.