Mali's Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop said in a March 6, 2023 interview with Mayadeen TV (Lebanon) that his country has moved on from its colonialist past and that Africans are "mature" enough to make their own decisions. He said that Mali has had "difficulties" in obtaining weapons from Europe, the United States, and other Western countries due to the red tape, sanctions, and "despicable" standards, and he said that Mali has decided to "expel" France and instead turn to Russia. Diop elaborated that Mali has been purchasing military equipment from Russia and that for the past ten years, 80% of Mali's military equipment is Russian. In addition, Diop said that Mali obtains some weapons from countries like Turkey and China.
Abdoulaye Diop: "If France behaves as if it is [still] a colonialist country, it is committing a grave mistake. It is time for France and all our partners to realize that the Africans are mature and can run their own countries. They have the ability to make their own choices, including choosing partners in accordance with their interests.
"We have the ability to think for ourselves. We do not want to be a tool at the hand of a foreign power, dictating to us what we, Africans, should do.
"We tried to obtain military equipment from Europe, from America, and from many Western countries, but there were a lot of difficulties.
"In light of all their red tape and despicable standards, they did not allow us to obtain that equipment.
"Under these circumstances, Mali had to make the unilateral decision to expel France. There is no option other than to turn to our Russian partner. Russia is a historical partner with which Mali has built relations since its independence. For over a decade, 80% of the Malian army's equipment has been Russian. Our soldiers had the proper training in this respect. So we turned to this [Russian] partner and asked to receive that equipment and the [Russians] granted our request.
"This is neither a loan nor a gift. It was paid for in cash from the state's general budget. This partner, at least, allowed us to obtain the equipment when we needed it. Within a few months, an enormous number of transport aircrafts was made available to the Malian army.
"Therefore, we are looking to efficiently defend our country, and to maintain security in the face of extremist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. His poses great challenges on the ground. The main difference today is that we can buy military equipment, like drones from Turkey and from other partners, like China. We believe that our partners should refrain from determining the parties that Mali is allowed or not allowed to deal with."