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Russia has sent military instructors to Niger, where a coup d'état took place a year ago: what it means

Ivanna ShepelWorld
Military instructors from Russia arrive in Niger

Military instructors and representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry have arrived in Niger, where a coup d'état took place in 2023. This may indicate a rapprochement between this West African country, led by a junta, and Moscow.

This was reported by Reuters. Footage of the arrival of the Russian military on an airplane loaded with military equipment was broadcast by Niger's state-run RTN television on Thursday. However, it is noted that the plane from Russia arrived in this African country on Wednesday.

Explaining the arrival of the Russians in Niger, local television referred to an agreement between the junta and dictator Vladimir Putin to strengthen cooperation between the countries.

The TV also showed footage of a military cargo plane unloading equipment, with uniformed men standing next to it.

"We are here to train the Nigerian army... (and) to develop military cooperation between Russia and Niger," one of the men in camouflage uniform, who, according to RTN, was one of the instructors, said.

Russia has sent military instructors to Niger, where a coup d'état took place a year ago: what it means
Russia has sent military instructors to Niger, where a coup d'état took place a year ago: what it means

Russia has also reportedly agreed to deploy an air defense system in Niger.

The arrival of Russian instructors became possible after Niger's decision in mid-March to cancel a military agreement with the United States. This agreement allowed Pentagon personnel to operate two bases on its territory, including a drone base that the United States built for more than $100 million.

The Pentagon later said that US officials had expressed concerns to Niger about its potential development of ties with Russia before the junta terminated the agreement, which governed approximately 1,000 US military personnel there.

Coup d'état in Niger

In 2023, a military coup took place in Niger, which resulted in the removal of President Mohamed Bazoum from office.

On July 26, 2023, soldiers of the Niger National Guard detained President Mohamed Bazoum, and another group of military officers announced his removal from office, closed the country's borders, suspended the activities of state institutions and imposed a curfew. After that, on July 28, the head of the presidential guard, Abdourahamane Tchiani, proclaimed himself the new leader of the country.

This military coup was the fifth since the country gained independence in 1960 and the first since 2010. It led to a full-scale international crisis.

The West African countries (ECOWAS) reacted to the coup by announcing that they would intervene militarily if the junta refused to restore constitutional order in the country. The junta replied that in that case they would kill Bazoum. After some time, the ECOWAS countries suspended a meeting on possible intervention.

The international community condemned the coup. France, the United States, the European Union, the African Union, and ECOWAS countries demanded the restoration of Bazum's power. European countries also cut aid by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Earlier, it was reported that the military, which came to power in Niger, banned the functioning of international organizations. In particular, UN agencies have suspended their work in the areas where armed clashes are taking place.

In 2023, the last French military personnel deployed in Niger as part of a ten-year anti-jihadist operation left the country. The withdrawal of the French contingent, which numbered about 1,500 people, began in October this year.

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