Niger’s Junta Revokes Security Agreements with EU, Looks to Russia for Defense Partnership
December 5, 2023 | by b1og.net
In a surprising move, Niger’s junta has revoked key security agreements with the European Union and is now looking to Russia for a defense partnership. Before the coup that removed President Mohamed Bazoum from power, Niger had been a major security partner for the West and Europe in the Sahel region, where extremist groups have created a global terror hot spot. The decision to withdraw from the EU agreements comes amidst growing political tensions between Niger and the European Union since the July coup. Meanwhile, a Russian delegation led by Russia’s Deputy Minister of Defense has held meetings with Niger’s junta leader and Minister of State for National Defense, further hinting at potential political ties with Moscow. As the military government consolidates its hold on power and seeks new partnerships, it is clear that Niger’s alliance dynamics are undergoing a significant shift.
Niger’s junta scraps two key military agreements with EU
Niger’s junta has decided to revoke two important military agreements with the European Union (EU) that were aimed at helping the country combat violence in the Sahel region. These agreements, namely the EU Military Partnership Mission and the EU Civilian Capacity-Building Mission, were crucial in maintaining security in the region.
The government of Niger, in a memo from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, announced its decision to withdraw from the EU agreements and stated that it no longer has any legal obligations related to these partnerships. This move represents a significant shift in Niger’s foreign policy and indicates growing tensions between Niger and the EU.
Niger seeks defense partnership with Russia
In light of the strained relations between Niger and the EU, Niger’s junta has turned to Russia for a defense partnership. A delegation from Russia, led by the Deputy Minister of Defense Lounous-Bek Evkourov, visited Niger to hold meetings with the junta leader, General Abdourahmane Tchiani, and the Minister of State for National Defense, Salifou Mody. The discussions focused on strengthening defense cooperation between Niger and Russia.
This partnership with Russia is seen as an opportunity for Niger to forge new alliances and ensure its security in the Sahel region. With the withdrawal of foreign troops and personnel from Niger as a result of sanctions imposed by its former allies, Niger needs to establish new partnerships to address the challenges of terrorism and extremism in the region.
Background on Niger’s role in the Sahel region
Niger plays a crucial role in maintaining security in the Sahel region, which has become a global hot spot for terrorism. The vast desert region south of the Sahara Desert has witnessed the rise of various Islamic extremist groups that threaten the stability of the countries in the region and beyond.
Before the coup that ousted former President Mohamed Bazoum, Niger had been an important security partner for both the West and Europe. The country actively collaborated with the EU in fighting terrorism in the Sahel region through the military and civilian missions. However, the political landscape changed after the coup, leading to a deterioration in relations between Niger and the EU.
Niger’s decision to withdraw from EU agreements
Niger’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the withdrawal from the EU agreements, citing the revocation of privileges and immunities granted by these agreements. This decision signifies a significant shift in Niger’s foreign policy and seeks to establish new partnerships in the defense sector. By withdrawing from these agreements, Niger is signaling its intention to pursue alternative defense cooperation opportunities to ensure its security in the Sahel region.
Growing political tensions between Niger and the EU
The decision to withdraw from the EU agreements follows a period of growing political tensions between Niger and the EU since the July coup. The international community has expressed concerns about the military government in Niger and imposed sanctions as a means to pressure the junta to reverse its coup. These tensions have had an impact on security cooperation between Niger and the EU, leading to the revocation of the military and civilian missions.
Russian delegation meets with Niger’s junta leader
In an effort to forge new partnerships, a Russian delegation, led by Deputy Minister of Defense Lounous-Bek Evkourov, visited Niger to hold meetings with the junta leader and the Minister of State for National Defense. The discussions focused on military and defense cooperation, exploring opportunities to strengthen ties between Niger and Russia in the field of defense.
The Russian delegation’s visit signifies an important step in Niger’s efforts to establish new alliances and ensure its security in the Sahel region. Despite not having an embassy or military personnel in Niger, Russia’s involvement in other African countries through the private military company Wagner Group has demonstrated its willingness to engage in military and security affairs on the continent.
Discussions on military and defense cooperation
During the meetings between the Russian delegation and Niger’s junta leaders, the focus was on strengthening cooperation between Niger and Russia in defense matters. The discussions aimed to explore formal political ties and identify potential areas of collaboration in defense and security. Both parties recognize the importance of working together to address the challenges of terrorism and extremism in the Sahel region.
Niger’s decision to seek a defense partnership with Russia reflects its commitment to finding new allies and diversifying its security partnerships. By engaging with Russia, Niger hopes to benefit from its expertise in combating terrorism and contribute to enhancing the security situation in the Sahel.
Sanctions imposed on Niger by foreign allies
As a consequence of the political tensions between Niger and the international community, particularly France, sanctions have been imposed on Niger. France, which had 1,500 troops operating in Niger, has decided to withdraw its forces from the country. This move has led to the isolation of Niger in the international community and has significant implications for Niger’s military government.
The sanctions and withdrawal of foreign troops have exerted pressure on the junta to reverse its coup. However, they have also emboldened the military government as it consolidates its hold on power and seeks alternative partnerships to maintain stability and security in the region.
Russia’s involvement in Africa and partnerships with other countries
Russia’s involvement in Africa, particularly through the Wagner Group, has been a subject of international attention. The private military company has been operating in various African countries, including the Central African Republic and Mali, offering security services and collaborating with local armies in countering armed rebels.
Niger’s outreach to Russia for support during the coup and its decision to seek a defense partnership can be understood in the context of Russia’s growing presence in Africa. The potential implications of this partnership between Niger and Russia include strengthening Niger’s military capabilities, receiving support in combating terrorism, and potentially aligning with Russia’s geopolitical interests in the region.
In conclusion, Niger’s decision to revoke the security agreements with the EU and seek a defense partnership with Russia reflects the shifting dynamics in the Sahel region. The growing political tensions between Niger and the EU, coupled with the need for alternative security alliances, have led Niger to explore partnerships with Russia. The discussions between the Russian delegation and Niger’s junta leaders signal the beginning of a new chapter in Niger’s defense cooperation efforts and highlight the potential implications of this partnership on the security situation in the Sahel.