Russian Military Instructors Arrive in Niger, Deepening Security Cooperation

Fri Apr 12 2024
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NIAMEY, Niger: Niger’s military ties with Russia have taken a significant step forward with the arrival of Russian military instructors and air defence equipment in the West African nation. This development follows Niger’s decision in January to enhance military cooperation with Moscow, a move that came after the expulsion of French forces assisting in counterterrorism efforts across the Sahel region.

State television channel Tele Sahel broadcasted the arrival of a Russian transport plane at Niamey airport on Wednesday night, carrying “the latest military equipment and military instructors from the Russian defence ministry.”

The primary objective of Russia’s involvement is to assist Niger in installing an air defence system to bolster control over its airspace, ensuring enhanced security capabilities. Russian military instructors accompanying the equipment will provide training to Nigerien forces on its utilization across various military specialities.

General Abdourahamane Tiani, the head of Niger’s military government, engaged in a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 26. During this dialogue, the leaders discussed security cooperation and broader strategic collaboration in addressing prevailing threats, although specifics were not disclosed by authorities.

Niger, despite being one of the world’s poorest nations, had previously partnered with Western countries in combating jihadist insurgencies in the Sahel. However, following the ousting of the elected president last year, Niger has shifted towards closer ties with Russia.

In addition to aligning with Russia, Niger, along with Mali and Burkina Faso—both governed by military regimes post-coups—has established a joint force to confront persistent jihadist threats in the region.

Meanwhile, the United States maintains a presence of approximately 1,000 troops in Niger. However, movements have been restricted since the coup, and Washington has scaled back assistance to the government in response.

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