The attendance of only 17 African state leaders at the second Russia-Africa Summit, held in St. Petersburg, Russia, last month, was much fewer than the inaugural summit in 2019. While this may indicate that the majority of African states do not support Russia’s military activities in Ukraine, it is nevertheless vital to evaluate contemporary African developments, such as the ongoing crisis in Niger, in relation to Russia’s aims on the African continent. Especially when the US sees a “narrow” window of opportunity to reverse the military coup in Niger.
One could argue that current events are a geopolitical move by Russia to shift the war with the European Union (EU), specifically France, from Ukraine to the Western African region. Throughout history, this region has been generally recognized as one of France’s most important strongholds, where its unbroken power has been maintained for many decades. Nonetheless, given the political upheavals experienced in Mali and Burkina Faso, which resulted in the emergence of pro-Russian and anti-Western parties,The continuing Niger uprising is yet another key event that has the potential to enhance Russian influence in Africa. While coups are not uncommon in Western African countries, the recent coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, and the continuing coup in Niger share a common feature: the new regimes’ alliance with Russia. The latter is clear from the continuous rallies in these countries, where the Russian flag is proudly displayed, as well as Russia’s Wagner Group’s expanding influence in these regions.
In recent years, Russia has sought strategic alliances with African nations, particularly Niger, a landlocked West African country. While the scope and objectives for Russia’s engagement in each African country varied, certain trends in its approach may be observed. Diplomatic and economic endeavors, military collaboration, and resource-related objectives are examples of these patterns. Russia has increased its diplomatic engagement in Africa, often through high-level visits and deeper economic relations. In Niger, for example, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will travel in 2021 to strengthen bilateral relations. Various agreements were struck.Energy, mining, and defense are examples of collaboration fields. Russia sees Africa as a place where it may reduce Western influence by capitalizing on historical relationships and forging alliances with African governments. Russia is expected to undercut Western-backed programs and projects like as economic aid and military cooperation by strengthening partnerships with countries such as Niger. This strategy allows Russia to challenge the West’s hegemony and expand its own area of influence on the world stage.