Mali has accused France of violating its airspace and delivering weapons to armed groups, the latest in a barrage of accusations that have strained the relationship between the West African country and the former colonial power.
In a letter to the head of the United Nations Security Council dated Monday, Mali’s foreign affairs minister, Abdoulaye Diop, said its airspace has been breached more than 50 times this year, mostly by French forces using drones, military helicopters and fighter jets.
“These flagrant violations of Malian airspace were used by France to collect information for terrorist groups operating in the Sahel and to drop arms and ammunition to them,” the letter said, according to the news agency Reuters.
Bamako has repeatedly accused Paris of attempting to destabilise the country, just as Russian mercenaries hired by the military government expand their reach in the country.
Authorities in Bamako said they had evidence that France had supplied weapons to armed groups – which Paris spent a decade and billions of dollars trying to defeat – but did not provide any in the letter to the UN.
The accusations mark a new low in relations between Mali and the former colonial power, as Western powers see their influence slipping in the Sahel.
German UN soldiers said they saw Russian forces landing at the airport and unloading equipment on Monday in the northern town of Gao.