US policymakers see no Russian hand within the coup however level to Russian affect operations since then, together with French-language social media postings and rallies in assist of the army takeover.
Enjoying on resentment of former ruler France, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in a purported audio message hailed the coup as “nothing greater than the battle of the individuals of Niger towards colonisers”.
In an interview with the BBC, Blinken stated that Bazoum’s ouster was “not instigated by Russia or by Wagner”, however warned that Wagner would “attempt to make the most of it”.
State Division spokesman Matthew Miller brushed apart strategies of pro-Moscow sentiment after Russian flags appeared in demonstrations in Niger.
“I believe it’s totally unusual that in case your nation is taken over by a army junta and also you wish to present your assist, the way in which you resolve to do this is by operating out and shopping for – I suppose at a retailer regionally – a Russian flag,” Miller stated.
DIFFERENT FROM MALI?
Cameron Hudson, an Africa skilled on the Heart for Strategic and Worldwide Research, stated the coup confirmed the West had made incorrect judgements on Niger, the place France and the US collectively have stationed some 2,500 troops.
“I believe Washington was working beneath the impression that they have been engaged with a really dependable Western companion,” he stated.
However Hudson stated Niger was totally different from the Wagner strongholds of Mali and the Central African Republic, which each turned to the Russians after sensing an “existential risk”.
He stated that Niger’s army, in contrast, seems pleased to protect relations with the US – which as a substitute has suspended support and demanded restoration of the constitutional order.
“However the one factor that Russia does supply is an opportunity to interrupt isolation,” Hudson stated.
“If you happen to do end up being pressured by regional and worldwide organisations just like the UN and the AU and ECOWAS, then Russia presents itself as a really handy device for serving to to skirt or undermine that isolation.”