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Niger Junta Terminates Key Security Deals with EU, Forges New Defense Ties with Russia

Niger’s Junta has decided to cancel two crucial military agreements with the European Union (EU) aimed at addressing the escalating violence in Africa’s Sahel region. 

This comes as the West African nation explores military cooperation with Russia, marking a significant geopolitical shift.  The move follows the recent coup that toppled President Mohamed Bazoum and has heightened political tensions between Niger and the EU.

Junta Cancels Key EU Military Agreements

The Nigerien military junta assumed power after the coup and formally revoked two key agreements with the EU. The first, the EU Military Partnership Mission in Niger launched in February, aimed to assist the country in combating Sahelian violence. 

The second, the EU Civilian Capacity-Building Mission, established in 2012, focused on strengthening Niger’s internal security sector. 

In a memo, Niger’s foreign affairs ministry announced the withdrawal of privileges and immunities granted under these agreements, asserting the government’s lack of legal obligation to continue the partnerships.

Before the coup, Niger stood as the last major security partner for the West and Europe in the Sahel, a region plagued by the activities of Islamic extremist groups. 

The cancellation of these military agreements underscores a shift in alliances for Niger, creating a diplomatic void in the EU’s efforts to address security challenges in the Sahel.

Political tensions between Niger and the EU escalated following the July coup that saw the removal of President Bazoum. In response, sanctions were imposed by various foreign economic and security allies, including France, which had 1,500 troops operating in Niger. 

The sanctions aimed to pressure the junta to reverse the coup but have inadvertently encouraged the military government to seek alternative partnerships.

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Exploring New Niger Alliances with Russia

Niger’s Junta has decided to cancel two crucial military agreements with the European Union (EU) aimed at addressing the escalating violence in Africa’s Sahel region.

Amid strained relations with the EU, Niger welcomed a high-level Russian delegation led by Deputy Minister of Defense Lounous-Bek Evkourov. 

The panel discussed with the junta leader, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, and Minister of State for National Defense Salifou Mody.  The talks centered around military and defense cooperation, indicating the possibility of formal political ties with Moscow. 

Through its private military company, Wagner Group, Russia has expanded its influence in various African nations.

While the regional and international sanctions were intended to pressure the junta, they seem to have prompted Niger to seek new partnerships, notably with Russia. 

The Wagner Group was among the first sources of assistance sought by the military leaders in Niger as they faced potential intervention from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to reverse the coup.

Niger’s decision to cancel EU military agreements and explore new alliances with Russia marks a significant geopolitical shift with potential implications for regional stability. 

As the junta consolidates power, it is evident that the country is seeking alternative partnerships to fill the void left by the withdrawal of Western security support. 

The evolving dynamics in Niger underscore the complex interplay of political, security, and diplomatic factors in the Sahel region.

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