Burkina Faso Now 'Free to Make Choices': Defense Minister on Acquisition of Russian Weapons
09:25 19.08.2023 (Updated: 09:33 19.08.2023)
In late July, Burkinabe President of Transition Ibrahim Traore told Sputnik Africa that military-technical cooperation between Russia and his country is developing "very well," noting that Burkina Faso can always rely on the range of Russian weapons available for purchase to strengthen its armed forces in the fight against terrorism.
Burkina Faso used to rely on its traditional partners, who imposed their conditions on the country in terms of what military equipment to buy and from whom, but now the nation is "free to make choices" and is ready to expand cooperation with Russia in the military sphere, Burkinabe Defense Minister Kassoum Coulibaly said in an exclusive interview with Sputnik Africa.
According to the minister, the country has a lot of military equipment acquired under unfavorable conditions imposed
by its former partners. Moreover, Burkina Faso couldn't easily acquire Russian weapons because it had to get a sort of approval from its traditional partners.
"We often bought very expensive equipment under these conditions [...]. We have a lot of tanks that were purchased mainly because we were tied, very tied, to a partner who imposed on us what to take," he explained.
However, as of now, the country is free to choose its partners in all areas of cooperation, including military, he stressed. The defense minister pointed out that Burkina Faso wants to provide its defense and security forces with the most efficient weapons and at the lowest cost.
"But now that we have this freedom to make our choice, we will make the best choice possible. I won't say what equipment, but there are already orders in progress [from Russia], that's for sure," he elaborated.
Coulibaly emphasized that Burkina Faso is committed to maintaining its sovereignty
, ensuring that "it works with whom it wants and pays for equipment where it wants." He noted that the country's main priority in this area is to acquire equipment at a good price and with a guaranteed after-sales service, so that it can be used for as long as possible.
He went on to say that military cooperation between Russia and Burkina Faso is developing dynamically
, and is expected to become even more open and direct. Likewise, he noted that one of the aims of his current visit to Moscow is to expand this productive collaboration between the two countries.
"Now that this trust has been restored with Russia, the exchanges will be more direct, more open, and it is also in this context that we are here to try to improve this development, these lines of cooperation, so that it is open and direct," the minister said.
He recalled that Burkina Faso has long been using Russian weapons. The official explained that as new weapons are being developed in Russia, it is necessary to ensure that this new equipment "fits into the range of products we had, because there are often problems with changing calibers."
However, Burkina Faso is not seeking to acquire particularly new military equipment, but instead appreciates those weapons that have proven to be effective on the ground, he added.
"As long as there is an evolution in weapons, there is also a drop in prices of old equipment. Even if Russia does not use some weapons now, we can find them good enough and we can always use them," he pointed out.
In particular, he mentioned Russian helicopters, highlighting their robustness
and noting that "if there is a problem, maintenance is ensured very easily." This explains the recent desire of African countries to purchase Russian helicopters, as well as other military equipment, he noted.
Earlier this week, the Burkinabe defense minister arrived
in Moscow to attend the Army-2023 forum, which is being held on August 14-20 under the auspices of the Russian Defense Ministry. Coulibaly shared his impressions of the forum, stating that it provided an opportunity to see and evaluate the Russian military equipment that is now on the battlefield.
"Participation in this forum allowed us to see the development that has taken place and the weapons that are being used. It allowed us to see with our own eyes what really exists on the ground," he said.
The minister hailed the development of Russian weapons, saying that this impressive evolution proves that the country is currently at a high level in terms of armament. He expressed his hope that Burkina Faso will be able to benefit from military cooperation
with Russia and improve its combat capabilities.