A high-ranking Russian military delegation, led by Deputy Minister of Defense Colonel-General Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, has arrived in Niamey for discussions with Niger’s military authorities. This marks the first official visit by a Russian government representative since the coup in Niger on July 26, which strained diplomatic relations with international partners. The meeting, which included Niger’s military leader, General Abdourahamane Tiani, resulted in the signing of documents aimed at enhancing military cooperation between Niger and the Russian Federation.
The visit underscores a shifting geopolitical landscape in the region. While France, the former ally of Niger, faced criticism from the new authorities and withdrew its troops, Russia emerged as a potential strategic partner. This move comes amidst the broader context of the military regimes in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger coming together to form the Alliance of Sahel States.
Russian diplomacy appears well-positioned in Niger, especially as France deals with strained relations and altered military cooperation agreements. The talks between the Russian delegation and Niger also reflect a broader trend, as the Russian officials visited Mali, another regional ally, to discuss development projects related to renewable energy, nuclear energy, and various economic initiatives. The collaboration extends to areas such as supply chains, transportation infrastructure, and mining projects.
In the complex dynamics of the Sahel region, where jihadist violence poses significant challenges, the Alliance of Sahel States takes shape. As Burkina Faso and Niger join Mali in distancing themselves from the G5 Sahel anti-jihadist organisation, it highlights the evolving alliances in the region. The diplomatic developments raise questions about the influence of global powers and regional actors in shaping the security and geopolitical landscape of the Sahel.