African nation to use Russian payment system Mir

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A local official says such a move would further enhance Mali’s relations with Moscow, a state of affairs that has been decried in the West

Mali is interested in using Russia’s Mir payments system, Badra Alou Coulibaly, the West African nation’s general controller of public services, told RIA Novosti in an interview published on Friday.

The move will strengthen the existing “significant level” of cooperation between Bamako and Moscow, Coulibaly said in response to a question on the sidelines of bilateral meetings at Russia’s Accounts Chamber.

The Mir system gained traction after Ukraine-related sanctions made it nearly impossible for Russia to conduct cross-border transactions using Western money and payment systems such as SWIFT. Partner banks now accept the Mir card in Abkhazia, Armenia, Belarus, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, South Korea, and South Ossetia. Kyrgyzstan, which had also used the system, announced last week that the card would no longer function after April 5 due to the risk of secondary sanctions on the country’s technology infrastructure.

On Friday, the Malian official said Bamako is “certainly looking forward” to accessing the Russian payment system, which other African countries, including Egypt, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, have expressed an interest in adopting it.

Russia’s relations with Mali, and with neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso, have sparked dissatisfaction in the EU and its Western allies since French troops were expelled from the military-ruled Sahel nations. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell claimed in January that Moscow’s influence had particularly increased in Mali, leaving the bloc unsure about the prospects for maintaining a presence in the Sahel region.

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