Breaking news on the crisis in Niger; a PMC Wagner (Russian-language site at link) source has stated:
A decision was made to deploy combat troops of the Wagner PMC in & around the capital of Niger, in light of current security situation & foreign threats.
PMC Wagner, also known as the Wagner Group, is a Russian state-funded military group controlled by Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, and technically operates outside Russian law, which prohibits private military groups.
PMC Wagner is also the group implicated in an aborted coup attempt in Russia last June, which led to the arrest of Russian General Sergei Surovikin. Earlier this year the U.S. government named PMC Wagner as a Transnational Criminal Organization.
Wagner Source: “A decision was made to deploy combat troops of the Wagner PMC in & around the capital of Niger, in light of current security situation & foreign threats.”
Unverified reports of Russian Cargo planes spotted landing in the capital of Niger, Niamey. pic.twitter.com/UwHD5gMf2M
— Indo-Pacific News – Geo-Politics & Defense News (@IndoPac_Info) August 5, 2023
As of the time of this writing, there are fragmented reports that the military junta now in control of Niger requested PMC Wagner’s assistance in keeping control of the country.
Niger’s new military junta has reportedly asked the Russian mercenary group Wagner for help, as the deadline for it to release the country’s ousted president or face armed intervention by the West African regional alliance closes in.
The request came during a visit by one of the coup leaders, General Salifou Mody, to neighbouring Mali, where he made contact with a Wagner member, Wassim Nasr, a journalist and senior research fellow at the Soufan Centre, told the Associated Press.
He said three Malian sources and a French diplomat confirmed the meeting, first reported by France 24.
“They need (Wagner) because they will become their guarantee to hold on to power,” he said, adding that the group is considering the request.
Niger’s junta faces a Sunday deadline set by the regional bloc known as Ecowas – representing fifteen countries located in West Africa – to release and reinstate the democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum, who was detained by his own guards last week.
PMC Wagner operates primarily in Africa, having hundreds of personnel stationed in Mali since that country’s 2021 coup. The organization has troops elsewhere in Africa as well.
There are also roughly 1,500 French and 1,100 American troops in Niger. This has led to speculation about the possibility of a direct conflict between U.S. and Russian forces, although such a conflict is, at the moment, unlikely.
The Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries, which has contracts in countries such as the Central African Republic and Mali, could look to take advantage of the unrest in Niger. Reuters reported on Saturday that a message posted on Telegram praising the coup was believed to be from Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin. The news organization could not confirm it was Prigozhin, but the speaker reportedly offered to send Wagner fighters to help restore order.
The purpose of inviting in PMC Wagner is reportedly to help the military junta gain control of the country and resist attempts by Ecowas to reinstate President Basoum.
…Niger’s military leaders have been following the playbook of Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso, which also faced coups, but are moving faster to consolidate power, Mr Nasr [, a member of Wagner] said, adding: “(Tchiani) chose his path, so he’s going full on it without wasting time because there’s international mobilisation.”
One question is how the international community will react if Wagner is brought in, he said.
When Wagner came into Mali at the end of 2021, the French military was ousted shortly afterwards after years of partnership.
Prices are rising on consumer goods in Niger as the economy suffers, and food deliveries have reportedly spoiled under sanctions from neighboring West African countries, although there are reports that those sanctions may be hardening support for the junta.
NIAMEY/ABUJA (Reuters) -Hundreds of supporters of Niger’s junta marched in the capital Niamey on Thursday to protest against West African sanctions, as regional defence chiefs discussed possible intervention to restore democracy.
As this is breaking news, RedState will continue to monitor the situation in Niger and keep you informed of any new developments.