Malian minister says Russia will ship food and fuel to Mali in coming weeks

FILE PHOTO: A view of a building under construction along the Niger river, in Bamako

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Mali expects Russia to send shipments of fuel, fertiliser and food worth around $100 million to Mali in the coming weeks, the West African country's economy minister, Alousseini Sanou, said on Wednesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the provision of such supplies with his Malian counterpart in August - a sign of deepening ties as Bamako's relationship soured with its long-time ally and former colonial ruler, France.

Speaking on national television from Moscow, Sanou said Russia was going to send 60,000 tonnes of petroleum products, 30,000 tonnes of fertiliser and 25,000 tonnes of wheat.

Mali's ruling military junta came to power in a 2020 coup and has sparred repeatedly with neighbouring countries and Western powers over election delays, alleged army abuses and cooperation with Russian mercenaries in its fight against an Islamist insurgency.

Fighters from the Wagner Group, a Kremlin-linked private military company, have been supporting the Malian army in its fight since late last year.

In October, Putin told Mali's interim president, Assimi Goita, that Moscow was committed to strengthening cooperation to help root out "terrorist groups" in Mali.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo in Bamako; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Matthew Lewis)