West Africa: Putin Discusses Niger Crisis With Malian Leader Goita

Harare — Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Mali’s acting president, Assimi Goita, on the telephone, discussing issues like counter-terrorism measures and the situation in Niger, Mali’s neighbor, the Kremlin is reported to have said.

The two leaders, according to Reuters, agreed that diplomatic tactics are the best way to end the crisis in Niger, where President Mohammed Bazoum was overthrown in July.

The Sahel state now led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani, is at odds with the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), the largest regional organization in West Africa, which previously threatened military intervention to reinstate Bazoum. Meanwhile, relations with former colonial power France deteriorated when Paris supported Bazoum in the aftermath of the coup.

The governing military junta in Mali cautioned against outside action in Niger and has become close to Russia, which sent its Wagner Group mercenary army there.

On August 3, the coup leaders in Niger cancelled a number of military cooperation agreements with France, which has about 1,500 soldiers stationed there as part of a larger campaign against militants.

French and Nigerien military officers are discussing a partial withdrawal of certain French military elements deployed in Niger. But the say the bulk of French forces in the Sahel will remain in Niamey.


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