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Niger’s junta revokes key security agreements with EU and turns to Russia for defense partnership

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) – Niger’s military junta said Monday the West African country will help fight violence in Africa’s Sahel region, as Niger’s military leadership and Russian defense officials discuss military cooperation. It has abandoned two important military agreements signed with the European Union.

Until the coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, Niger was the last major Western and European powerhouse in the Sahel, a vast sub-Saharan region where Islamic extremist groups have turned into a global terrorism hotspot. He was a security partner.

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Niger’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a memo that the government has decided to “withdraw the privileges and immunities granted” under the EU Military Partnership Mission in Niger, which was launched in February, and as a result, the There is no legal obligation.”

It also rejected the EU civilian capacity-building mission established in 2012 to strengthen Niger’s internal security sector, effectively revoking its recognition.

With Niger announcing a new alliance with Russia, the EU and Western countries have lost their last security partner in the Sahel region.

The development is the latest in rising political tensions between Niger and the EU since the coup in July.

In an unusual visit on Sunday, a Russian delegation led by Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Lunas Beg Yevkurov met with Niger’s military junta leader, General Abdulrahmane Chiani, and Defense Minister Salih Modi. The two countries held further meetings on Monday to discuss military and defense issues.

Niger’s defense ministry said in a statement that “the focus of the discussion is on strengthening cooperation between the two countries in the field of defense,” hinting at formal political ties with Moscow, which does not have an embassy or military personnel in the country.

Most of Niger’s foreign economic and security allies have imposed sanctions on the country, including France, which has 1,500 troops stationed in the country. All have been asked to leave.

Analysts say regional and international sanctions to force the junta to reverse the coup are weighing on the country, but as the junta tightens its grip on power and seeks new partnerships, He also points out that it is encouraging.

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Russia operates in parts of Africa through the private mercenary Wagner Group, working with the military in the fight against armed rebels from the Central African Republic, where mercenary units help provide security services to the government. A delegation led by Yevkurov also visited Mali.

The Wagner Group was one of the first sources of support Niger’s military leaders turned to when they faced possible military intervention by West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS in an effort to reverse the coup.

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