Russia sends military trainers, troops to Niger

Russia sends military trainers, troops to Niger
Russia sends military trainers, troops to Niger

Russian military personnel arrived in Niamey to train their soldiers and set up an air defense system. Russia has been trying to build stronger ties with several African nations currently ruled by military juntas.

The Russian defense ministry sent military personnel and trainers to Niger on Wednesday to install systems and train soldiers, Nigerien state TV RTN said.

The channel showed people and goods being unloaded from a military cargo plane, with images showing Russian Ilyushin-76 aircraft. 

The dispatch of Russian personnel to the African nation is part of a recent agreement between Niger’s military junta leader Abdourahamane Tchiani and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two countries are trying to increase cooperation.

“We are here to train the Nigerien army … (and) to develop military cooperation between Russia and Niger,” a trainer dressed in camouflage with most of his face covered told RTN.

The channel also reported that Russia also had plans to install an anti-aircraft system.

Niger’s strained ties with the West

The junta’s growing closeness with Russia has sparked alarm from the US. 

The Nigerien junta in March said it has revoked an accord with the US government which allowed American troops to operate on two of its bases

Around 1,000 US military personnel had operated from the country as of 2023, and the US government had also built a drone base that cost more than $100 million (€92.7 million).

Coups spread across West Africa, as Russia pushes for more influence in region

Niger and its neighbors Mali and Burkina Faso have witnessed several military coups in the past few years. The juntas of these countries have ended long-established military deals with former colonial power France, and formed the Alliance of Sahel States (AES).

Russia has ramped up efforts to build stronger relations with African nations, positioning itself as a military power without a colonial past.

Prior to the military coup last July, Niger and the US, France and some other European countries were cooperating to fight against Islamist militias in the Sahel region.

Violence has grown in the region since the coups, with a 38% rise reported in the central Sahel region in 2023, said the US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED).

The International Organization of Migration said on Monday that 3 million people have been displaced, as a humanitarian crisis ensues in the region.

Source: Dw

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