Military authorities hosted the Russian Vice Minister of Defense, also the newly appointed head of the Wagner Group. This marks the first official visit by a Russian government official since the coup on July 26, signaling a commitment to enhancing military cooperation between Niger and Russia as Niamey turns away from its Western partners in this realm.
Following a reception in Bamako on December 3rd, the Russian delegation, led by Vice Minister of Defense Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, was received on December 4 in Niamey by General Abdourahamane Tiani.
The visit aims to solidify military cooperation between Russia and Niger, with both nations signing documents to this effect. While the specific content of these military cooperation agreements remains undisclosed, historical collaborations focused on the training of intelligence officers and, notably, Nigerien pilots.
Amidst the ongoing security crisis, Niger has increasingly procured military equipment, arms, ammunition, and combat helicopters from Russia. The newly signed documents may also involve the deployment of Russian instructors.
The question of whether Niger will engage the Wagner Group remains undecided within the junta. However, the significance of this visit lies in Moscow’s growing presence in the Sahel.
Meanwhile, the United States Ambassador to Niger is still in the process of presenting her credentials to Niamey’s authorities, and the European Union, on the same day, receives notice of the termination of its military partnership with Niger. The EU’s Eucap Sahel Niger mission is given six months to leave the country, further accentuating Niamey’s rupture with its Western allies.
This decision follows the recent repeal of the 2005 immigration law, drafted with substantial EU support, and comes just over two months after securing the departure of French troops from Niger. The geopolitical landscape in the region continues to evolve as Niger strategically realigns its international partnerships.