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The United States is trying to limit Russian influence in Niger after the coup

The United States is trying to limit Russian influence in Niger after the coup

In the aftermath of the coup in Niger, the United States is now seeking to prevent Russia from pushing its pawns there, hoping to build particularly on Washington’s longstanding military ties with Niamey.

The African country has been a mainstay of US and French counterterrorism operations in the Sahel region, particularly since the military seized power in neighboring Mali in 2020.

On the other hand, the latter, rejecting the presence of Western troops, welcomed the mercenaries of the Russian Wagner Group with open arms.

Representative No. 2 in US diplomacy, Victoria Nuland, admitted during an unannounced trip to Niamey on Monday that little progress had been made regarding the relinquishment of power by the authors of the coup, but those – They well understood the dangers to their sovereignty when Wagner was invited to interfere in the affairs of the country.

According to the diplomat, Brigadier General Musa Salo Parmo, the newly appointed chief of staff who was her main interlocutor during her visit, has worked closely in the past with US Special Forces.

The Russian flag appeared several times during the post-coup demonstrations. (file photo)

Photo: AP/Sam Mednick

In a sign of the strong relations between Washington and Niamey at the time, the head of US diplomacy, Anthony Blinken, made a historic trip to Niger a few months before the coup, where he welcomed the progress made under President Mohamed’s leadership. bubble.

The Nigerian Head of State was also one of the guests of honor at the Democracy and Africa Summits organized by Joe Biden.

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Russian influence

US officials did not see Russian involvement in the coup in Niger, but have indicated influence operations since then, including French-language posts on social media in support of the coup.

Anthony Blinken said in an interview with BBC That the forced departure of President Bazoum was not Composed by Russia or WagnerBut he warned that the group of Russian mercenaries Will try to take advantage of it.

Playing on resentment against France, the former colonial power, an audio message attributed to Wagner’s leader, Yevgeny Prigogine, claims that the coup was not. Nothing but the struggle of the people of Niger against the colonialists.

About Cameron Hudson, Africa expert at the American Think Tank Center for Strategic and International StudiesThe coup showed that Western powers had relied on false assumptions about Niger, where together France and the United States have deployed some 2,500 troops.

I think Washington felt that it was dealing with a very reliable partner of the West.

However, according to the expert, Niger remains different from Mali and the Central African Republic, which have become Wagner’s strongholds.

political influences

Thus, Niger’s military officials appear eager to maintain good relations with the United States, Mr. Hudson argues, while Washington has suspended its economic aid and demanded a return to the rule of law.

but, If you find yourself under pressure from international and regional organizations such asUnited nationsThe African Union and ECOWASRussia can provide An opportunity to break isolationsays the expert.

Wagner supported armed groups in Sudan and Libya and claimed links to Burkina Faso. This group works to maintain certain systems in exchange for access to desirable minerals and other natural resources.

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Moscow, for its part, benefits from improved diplomatic relations with these countries. Thus Mali was one of the only countries to participateUnited nations To vote against a resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

A month before the coup in Niger, Evgueni Prigojine made his own attempt at an insurrection in Russia, which was ultimately thwarted.

However, to the amazement of outside observers, Schiff-Wagner survived this fiasco. He had promised before President Bazoum’s ouster that the group would step up its operations in Africa.

Yevgeny Prigozhin Weaving such an intricate web of corporations and mercenaries that they retain their value in the eyes of the Kremlin, despite the rebellion.estimates Heather Ashby, of the Russia and Europe Center at USIP, a US quasi-governmental analysis center.

It is profitable for Russia to continue on this path. And so, I don’t see Wagner going away anytime soon.