The coup d’état in Niger presents a strategic opportunity for Russia’s interest in Africa, especially in the Sahel region. The coups in Mali and Burkina Faso have international implications because the leaders of the military junta in these two countries have affirmed their support for Russia.
Mali’s strongman, Assimi Goita, hastened the departure of the French troops and turned to the private Russian militia of the Wagner Group to assure Mali’s military assistance to continue the fight against terrorism after he seized power.
President Bazoum was considered very pro-West. He was a close ally of France and the United States, and he received significant financial and military assistance from those countries. He was also a key partner in the fight against Islamist militants in the Sahel region.
Bazoum's pro-Western stance was not without its critics. Some people argued that he was too close to France and that he was not doing enough to promote Niger's interests. However, Bazoum's supporters argued that his close ties to the West were essential for Niger's security and development.
The military junta has not yet made any public statements about its foreign policy, and the junta may maintain Niger's close ties to the West. However, the coup has raised concerns that the junta could be more sympathetic to Russia, and it is possible that the junta could seek to increase cooperation with Russia in the future.
The coup in Niger is an opportunity for Russia because it could allow Moscow to increase its influence in the country and the wider Sahel region. Niger is a key ally of the West in the fight against Islamist militants in the Sahel, but the coup has raised questions about whether the country will continue to cooperate with Western powers. If Niger does break with the West, Russia could step in to fill the void, providing military assistance and other forms of support.
Russia has already been active in the Sahel region, providing military assistance to Mali and the Central African Republic. The coup in Niger could give Russia an opportunity to expand its influence in the country and the wider region.
As a matter of fact, there are some specific reasons why the coup in Niger is an opportunity for Russia. First, Niger is a uranium-rich country, and Russia is a major importer of uranium. The coup could give Russia more leverage over Niger’s uranium exports. Second, Niger is a strategic location in the Sahel region, and the coup could give Russia a foothold in the region.
Over the past year, Russia has doubled down its focus on Africa’s Sahel region. A troubled part of the continent that has spread roughly from Senegal to the Red Sea. Sahelian countries are turning to Russia because they see Russia as a more reliable partner than the West. This is because Russia has a long history of involvement in Africa and is seen as more understanding of African concerns.
What really makes Sahelian countries drawn to Russia is that, unlike the West, Russia is not imposing conditions on its assistance to Sahelian countries. This means that Sahelian countries are free to choose their own political and economic systems. This is attractive to Sahelian countries that are wary of Western interference. The anti-French sentiment triggered a rapprochement between Sahelian countries and Russia.
The coup has created an opportunity for Russia to increase its influence in the Sahel region, and it is likely that Moscow will be watching the situation closely.