Niamey, Niger – A Russian delegation led by Deputy Defense Minister Colonel-General Yunus-Bek Yevkurov visited Niger on Monday, marking the first official visit by a Russian government official since the country’s military coup in July. The visit underscored the growing military cooperation between Russia and Niger, a development that comes amid heightened tensions in the Sahel region.
During their meeting with Niger’s military leaders, the Russian delegation signed documents to strengthen military cooperation between the two countries. This move reflects Russia’s strategic outreach in Africa, where it has been seeking to expand its influence and forge partnerships with various governments.
The visit also coincides with France’s decision to withdraw its troops from Niger, following a request from the country’s military junta. France’s withdrawal has created a vacuum in the region, leaving the door open for Russia to further assert its presence.
Russia’s engagement with Niger extends beyond military cooperation. On Sunday, the Russian delegation also visited Mali, another West African country facing jihadist insurgency. In Mali, discussions centered on development projects, including work on renewable and nuclear energy, the construction of a railway and tramway network, the creation of a regional airline, and mining projects.
These developments highlight Russia’s multifaceted approach to expanding its influence in Africa, combining military engagement with economic and infrastructure initiatives. As the Sahel region grapples with ongoing security challenges, Russia is positioning itself as a key player, seeking to capitalize on the region’s vulnerabilities and advance its own interests.