Russia responsible for Niger coup, says top Ukrainian official

The Russian Wagner Group’s boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has hailed the coup as a move towards independence from the West.

Nigeriens holding a Russian flag
Nigeriens holding a Russian flag participate in a march called by supporters of coup leader General Abdourahmane Tchiani in Niamey, Niger [Sam Mednick/AP Photo]

A Ukrainian official has accused Moscow of orchestrating the coup in Niger, referring to alleged involvement as a “standard Russian tactic”.

Last Wednesday, President Mohamed Bazoum and his democratically elected government were removed by military leaders in the seventh military coup the country has seen in less than three years.

On Tuesday, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, said Russia was behind the shocking takeover.

On the social media outlet X (formally known as Twitter), Podolyak wrote, “It is now absolutely clear that Russia is behind the so-called ‘military coup’ in Niger. It is a standard Russian tactic: to divert attention, seize the moment and expand the conflict.”

“Russia has a global scenario for provoking instability to undermine the global security order,” he said.

“Its time to draw the right conclusion: only the removal of [Russian President] Putin’s clan and sending Russia to the political rebirth can guarantee the inviolability of rules and stability to the world.”

Nigerien security forces prepare to disperse pro-coup demonstrators gathered outside the French embassy, in Niamey, the capital city of Niger July 30, 2023
Nigerien security forces prepare to disperse pro-coup demonstrators gathered outside the French embassy, in Niamey, the capital city of Niger [Souleymane Ag Anara/Reuters]

The Kremlin said on Monday that the situation in Niger was “cause for serious concern” after the coup that was condemned by much of the world but welcomed by Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has extensive interests in Africa.

In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia called for all sides in Niger to show restraint, and for the fastest possible return to legal order.

Russia’s Wagner Group has not claimed responsibility for the coup but Prigozhin has hailed the military takeover.

Prigozhin’s fighters have played a significant role in many African states, to the dismay of the West, and most recently arrived in the Central African Republic (CAR) ahead of a constitutional referendum.

In a recent audio message on the Wagner Group’s Telegram, Prigozhin said what happened in Niger “is nothing other than the struggle of the people of Niger with their colonisers. With colonisers who are trying to foist their rules of life on them and their conditions and keep them in the state that Africa was in hundreds of years ago.”

He added: “Today, this is effectively gaining their independence. The rest will without doubt depend on the citizens of Niger and how effective governance will be, but the main thing is this: they have got rid of the colonisers.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies