The new military leadership in the country is aware of the potential dangers of engaging the services of the defense contractor, according to Victoria Nuland.
Acting as the Deputy Secretary of State for the United States, Victoria Nuland visited Niger, where she held discussions with the newly established military government. During these talks, she cautioned against enlisting the assistance of the Russian defense contractor Wagner Group. Notably, Nuland played a pivotal role in the Western-backed coup in Ukraine back in 2014.
In a special briefing for reporters on Monday, Nuland shared that she had meetings with the defense chief of the military government, Moussa Barmou, and three other senior commanders. She characterized these discussions as “very candid and sometimes challenging.”
In the previous month, the presidential guard in Niger detained President Mohamed Bazoum and his family, triggering global condemnation. The coup was met with opposition from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which threatened military intervention unless the coup leaders reinstated Bazoum. However, the new government has not backed down.
Nuland additionally revealed that she encouraged the coup leaders to “consider our proposal to collaborate in resolving this through diplomatic means and returning to constitutional order.”
Addressing recent media reports suggesting that the new Nigerien military administration sought support from the Wagner Group private military company to consolidate their position, Nuland discussed her concerns about Wagner’s presence in various countries. While her counterparts didn’t make definitive commitments, she expressed confidence that they comprehended her message.
“I gathered from my meetings today that those responsible for this action here are well aware of the risks to their sovereignty when they involve Wagner,” Nuland added.
Victoria Nuland is widely recognized for her assertive foreign policy stance. She famously visited Kiev before the 2014 Maidan coup, distributing pastries to Ukrainian protesters advocating for a pro-Western direction for their country.
Nuland’s involvement during the coup came into the spotlight when a leaked phone call revealed her discussing potential successors for the then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, along with a remark that garnered attention. Subsequently, Yanukovich was ousted from power, leading to Crimea rejoining Russia and violent conflicts in the Donbass region.
Last week, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov cautioned that external powers intervening in Niger from beyond the region would likely not improve the situation. He reiterated the hope for Niger to return to “constitutional normalcy.”