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Niger talking military cooperation with Moscow after scrapping EU security pacts

The junta ruling Niger has written off two key military pacts with the European Union designed to help overcome conflict in Africa’s Sahel region. This week, the West African nation’s army leaders entered talks with a visiting Russian defence delegation about military cooperation.

Until the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum, Niger had been the last of the West’s main security partners in the sub-Saharan Sahel region, a prime target for Islamic extremist groups.

Niger’s foreign affairs ministry has stated that the government is ending all “privileges and immunities” that were part of the EU Military Partnership Mission launched there last February. Accordingly, Niger now no longer has any “legal obligation” under terms of that partnership.

The official statement also announced Niger’s withdrawal from the EU Civilian Capacity-Building Mission, which had been established in 2012 to strengthen the nation’s internal security sector, thus revoking its approval for the missions.

The moves reflect the rise in political tensions between Niger and the EU since the junta came to power in July.

Russia’s Deputy Minister of Defence Lounous-Bek Evkourov and his visiting delegation met with junta leader, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, and National Defence Minister Salifou Mody in Niger at the beginning of this week.

According to the Niger defence ministry, the focus of their discussion was on strengthening cooperation between the two countries “in the field of defence.” Since Moscow has no embassy or military personnel in Niger, some believe this suggests that establishing formal political ties with Moscow may be under consideration.

Source: European Interest