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Niger Welcomes Russian Military Trainers Amid Tensions with U.S.

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Screenshot of the two Russian military trainers featured in the RTN broadcast on Thursday. Photo Source: Crux on YouTube.

Russian military trainers arrived in Niger on Wednesday, as shown in a state television broadcast, RTN, bringing with them military supplies to enhance Niger’s air defence capabilities.

This move comes amid deteriorating relations between Niger and the United States.

Dressed in military uniforms, one of the two Russian trainers filmed stated (in French) that their mission in Niger is “to train the Nigerian army to use the military equipment that is here.”

“We are here to develop military cooperation between Russia and Niger,” the trainer added.

Niger has historically been an ally of the U.S. in combating insurgencies linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group in the Sahel region.

However, their diplomatic relations took a negative turn after some Nigerian forces trained by the U.S. were involved in a coup last year that overthrew the elected president.

The diplomatic situation worsened last month when Niger’s junta deemed U.S. military flights from its airbases illegal and resisted U.S. pressure on the country to avoid partnering with Russia and Iran.

Despite these strains in diplomatic relations, U.S. officials have said that American troops have not yet been ordered to leave.

According to the RTN broadcast on Thursday, the arrival of Russian personnel comes after a conversation back in March between the military leaders of Niger and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

This indicates Niger’s efforts to diversify its international alliances and achieve sovereignty, the broadcast said.

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