Niger: arrival in Niamey of new Russian instructors and military equipment

New Russian instructors landed on Saturday May 4 in Niamey, where they made two deliveries of military equipment in two cargo planes, less than a month after the arrival of the first instructors, Nigerien public television announced overnight from Saturday to Sunday

Niger: arrival in Niamey of new Russian instructors and military equipment

New Russian instructors landed on Saturday May 4 in Niamey, where they made two deliveries of military equipment in two cargo planes, less than a month after the arrival of the first instructors, Nigerien public television announced overnight from Saturday to Sunday. “In less than a month, Russia chartered three cargo flights to transport” various military equipment, bringing “several instructors from the Russian army to Niamey,” Télé Sahel reported.

On April 10, the first Russian instructors, around a hundred, arrived in the capital, making a first delivery of air defense equipment. Africa Corps (or The African Corps according to its account in English), perceived as the successor to the Wagner paramilitary group in Africa, had confirmed its arrival in the country.

The television explained that it “did not have authorization to broadcast” the arrival of the second flight “for reasons of national security”. The third flight, “in addition to military equipment and instructors, also transported a large quantity of various food products for Niger,” she explains.

The Russian news agency RIA Novosti, relying on Nigerien sources, reported that a “humanitarian cargo ship from Russia [had] arrived in Niger.” “The unloading of food and basic necessities took place in front of the walls of the base where the US military is still stationed,” she added.

A major drone base near Agadez

On Thursday, May 2, American Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that Russian soldiers were stationed at a Nigerien air force base housing American soldiers, near Niamey airport.

The military regime of Niger, resulting from a coup d'état perpetrated on July 26, 2023, denounced in March the military cooperation agreement in force with the United States, believing that it had been "unilaterally imposed" by Washington. In mid-April, Washington agreed to withdraw its more than a thousand soldiers from the country.

Discussions between the United States and Niger are still ongoing regarding the terms of this withdrawal. The United States notably has a large drone base near Agadez, built for around $100 million (€93 million).

After the coup that overthrew the elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, the military regime quickly demanded the departure of soldiers from the former French colonial power. It has moved closer to Russia, like neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, also run by military juntas and facing jihadist violence, perpetrated by groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State organization.

At the end of April, Idrissa Soumana Maiga, the director of the private daily L'Enquêteur, was imprisoned in Niamey prison for "undermining national defense", after the publication of an article on an "alleged installation of 'Eavesdropping equipment by Russian agents on official buildings'.