Putin Sends Russian Soldiers To Niger Republic

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Russia has sent an air defence system and 100 military trainers to the Niger Republic.

Military personnel from the Russian Ministry of Defence are to install the system and train Niger’s soldiers in its use, the Nigerien state broadcaster RTN reported late on Thursday.

This was preceded by a telephone conversation between the head of the military junta, Abdourahamane Tchiani, and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of March.

Until the military coup last July, Niger was the last democratic ally of the U.S., France and other European countries in the fight against Islamist militias in the Sahel region, where jihadists are continuing to gain influence.

In March, the junta ended its military cooperation with the U.S. in the fight against terrorism.

The German Armed Forces operate an air base in Niamey, the future of which is still unclear.

State television showed images of a Russian Ilyushin-76 aircraft that had landed at Niamey airport on Wednesday.

We are here to train the Niger army using the military equipment that has arrived here,” a masked, fair-skinned man in military uniform said in heavily accented French in the broadcast.

Since the military seized power on July 26, Niger has embarked on a new path leading to the diversification of its partners to assert its sovereignty vis-à-vis the world, the report continued.

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Messrs Putin and Tchiani had discussed “strengthening cross-sectoral and comprehensive strategic cooperation between Niger and Russia to deal with current threats, especially in the security field.”

Like its neighbours Mali and Burkina Faso before it, Niger is turning away from its Western partners, in particular ex-colonial power France, and towards Russia.

All three countries have been ruled by the military following coups.

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