Russia on Friday signalled it was interested in building nuclear infrastructure in West African state Mali, hours after securing an agreement to build a nuclear plant in neighbouring Burkina Faso.
Since the conflict in Ukraine, Russia has competed with the West for influence in Africa, pledging further military co-operation with African leaders and promising free grain to six African countries.
Russian state nuclear operator Rosatom said it signed an agreement with Mali to “co-operate in the field of peaceful uses of atomic energy,” including potentially building infrastructure there.
The agreement was signed at the Russian Energy Week in Moscow, which was attended by a delegation from Mali and Rosatom deputy director general Nikolay Spassky.
The agreement comes three days after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Malian military ruler Assimi Goita discussed strengthening security ties during a phone call.
Since seizing power in 2020, Mali’s ruling junta has brought in Russian planes, helicopters and paramilitaries to strengthen its fight against jihadist militants.
Mali had long relied on former colonial power France for military assistance, but has increasingly turned to Russia since Paris pulled its troops out in 2022.