Russian troopers arrive in Niger as relationship with U.S. deteriorates | EUROtoday

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DAKAR, Senegal — Russian troopers arrived in Niger this week, in response to Nigerien state tv, lower than one month after the army junta introduced that it was ending army agreements with the United States.

Russian troopers in army fatigues mentioned within the report that they’d be offering coaching and tools — particularly air protection system tools — to the Nigerien army. Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone with Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani on March 26 and mentioned rising their cooperation, notably on safety issues, the state tv report mentioned. Tchiani ousted Niger’s democratically elected president in a coup final 12 months.

Video footage confirmed an airplane with a Russian flag on its wing that was recognized as touchdown in Niamey, the capital, on Wednesday evening. A person sporting a camouflage uniform and a neck gaiter who was recognized as a “Russian military instructor” mentioned his group had arrived “to train the Nigerien army, using the military materials that arrived here.”

The Russian deployment is a part of a sample within the area however is especially vital in Niger, which till the coup was a robust Western ally on safety points. The Sahelian nations of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have in recent times been racked by violence linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, and army juntas have mounted coups towards democratically elected leaders, citing the safety state of affairs.

The juntas’ rhetoric trumpets sovereignty and a rejection of France, their former colonial energy, they usually have more and more appeared to Russia and different companions for assistance on safety issues. In Mali, greater than 1,000 Russian troopers have been preventing alongside the military, whereas Burkina Faso welcomed Russian trainers earlier this 12 months.

The American presence in Niger contains about 1,000 troops and a big drone base within the north of the nation at Agadez. Gen. Michael E. Langley, who heads U.S. army operations in Africa, mentioned the bottom has been key for “active watching and warning.”

Niger’s announcement that it was ending its army accords with the United States got here on the heels of a visit to Niamey by Langley; Molly Phee, the State Department’s high official for African affairs; and Celeste Wallander, assistant secretary of protection for worldwide safety affairs. Junta spokesman Amadou Abdramane learn a press release on TV after the go to denouncing “with force the condescending attitude” of Phee and saying that the delegation had tried to dictate which nations the West African nation may have relationships with, together with Iran and Russia.

But in personal conferences through the weeks that adopted, U.S. officers continued to speak with the junta to find out if the United States may retain some form of safety presence within the nation. One high U.S. official known as the state of affairs “dynamic,” with either side exploring situations beneath which the American army presence may proceed.

The State Department didn’t instantly reply to requests for touch upon what the arrival of the Russian troopers meant for such discussions. There have been no public bulletins a few departure plan for the U.S. troops, who stay at their base.

Since the junta authorities’s announcement concerning the finish of the army agreements between the United States and Niger, there have been rising calls amongst residents within the nation for Americans to depart. Fliers for a protest towards the U.S. presence that’s scheduled for Saturday in Niamey name on Nigeriens to “come out massively” — echoing calls that final 12 months preceded the departure of French troops.