On Monday, the Associated Press reported that the military junta in Niger canceled two security agreements that the West African nation had previously entered into with the European Union, aimed at addressing the violence in its central Sahel region. Meanwhile, the country’s leadership reportedly met with a Russian defense official regarding potential cooperation with Moscow.
Prior to the July coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, Niger had served as the last Western ally in the Sahel, a region south of the Sahara Desert, that has become a refuge for Islamic terror groups.
The Islamic State and Al Qaeda have been known to be operating in the vast area.
The report stated that on Sunday, a Russian military delegation, headed by Deputy Minister of Defense Yunus-bek Yevkurov, held meetings with Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, the leader of Niger’s junta, and Salifou Mody, the Minister of State for National Defense. Further discussions on defense matters were said to have taken place between the two parties the next day.
Russia’s semi-mercenary Wagner Group was one of the first organizations that Niger’s new leaders reached out to after they completed their overthrow of the elected government in Niamey.