Niger ends EU defense, security partnerships

Move announced as junta agrees to strengthen defense cooperation with Russia

Niger’s military administration announced Monday that it has ended two security and defense partnerships with the European Union as the country looks more towards Russia for defense cooperation.

A statement issued by the Foreign Ministry said the state is withdrawing from the European Union Military Partnership Mission (EUMPM) in Niger, effectively revoking permission for an EU initiative established to enhance the capacity of the West African country’s security forces.

The government has decided to “withdraw the privileges and immunities granted” under the EU military partnership mission and therefore “has no legal obligation” in relation to the said partnership, the statement said.

The EUMPM was launched in February to enhance the ability of the Niger Armed Forces to contain terrorist threats, according to the EU.

The junta also revoked the 2012 EU civilian capacity-building mission established to strengthen the country’s internal security forces.

The development came on the same day a Russian delegation met with Niger’s military leaders in the capital Niamey, with the two countries sealing a deal to strengthen defense cooperation.

The deal was signed by Russian Deputy Minister of Defense Colonel-General Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and Nigerien Defense Minister Gen. Salifou Mody.

Earlier this year, the EU suspended financial support and security cooperation with Niger in the aftermath of the July military intervention that deposed elected President Mohamed Bazoum.

On Aug. 3, Niger’s military leaders announced the scrapping of military agreements with France, a decision Paris rubbished, citing a lack of legitimacy.

But French President Emmanuel Macron in September announced the planned withdrawal by the end of the year of about 1,500 French troops which were deployed in Niger as part of a regional counter-insurgency force.


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