Niger’s junta ends security agreements with EU, turns to Russia for defence support

Nigeriens, some holding Russian flags, participate in a march called by supporters of coup leader Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani in Niamey, Niger, on July 30, 2023. Photo: Sam Mednick, AP FILE

In a memo, Niger’s foreign affairs ministry said the government has decided to “withdraw the privileges and immunities granted” under the EU Military Partnership Mission in Niger that was launched in February and consequently “has no legal obligation” related to that partnership.

It also dismissed the EU Civilian Capacity-Building Mission established in 2012 to strengthen Niger’s internal security sector, effectively revoking its approval for the missions.

The developments are the latest in growing political tensions between Niger and the EU since the July coup.

In a rare visit on Sunday, December 3, 2023, a Russian delegation led by Russia’s Deputy Minister of Defence Lounous-Bek Evkourov met with Niger’s junta leader, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, and Minister of State for National Defense Salifou Mody. The two sides held more meetings on Monday to discuss military and defence issues.

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“At the centre of the discussions is the strengthening of cooperation between the two countries in the field of defence,” Niger’s defence ministry said in a statement.

Most of Niger’s foreign economic and security allies have sanctioned the country, including France, which had 1,500 troops operating in Niger. All of them have been asked to leave.

Analysts say that although regional and international sanctions to force the junta to reverse its coup have squeezed the country, they have also emboldened the military government as it consolidates its hold on power and seeks new partnerships.