Russia has no plans to use its military in Niger, a top diplomat said Wednesday, countering widely held views on social media that Russia would side militarily with the coup plotters in the West African country.
“Russia opposes a military solution to the conflict, Russia has no plans to use its armed forces in Niger”, Russia’s Ambassador to Nigeria Alexei Shebarshin said in a comment the embassy shared with PREMIUM TIMES.
There have been claims that Russia will support Niger militarily should ECOWAS make true its threat to use force to reinstate the democratically elected government there.
The rumours were fuelled by statements of the coup plotters and similar coup plotters in other West African countries that they were jettisoning Western support for Russian support.
Also, scores of Nigeriens who marched in support of the coup burnt French flags and raised Russian flags, creating an impression Russia was behind the coup plotters.
In his statement, Mr Shebarshin advised Niger to solve its problems independently and constitutionally, without any resort to force or threat to use it.
In a similar response, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia believes the coup is an anti-constitutional act and it is necessary to restore the constitutional order in Niger.
The July 26 coup in Niger received widespread condemnation from world leaders and international organisations.
ECOWAS and the African Union issued seven and 15 days ultimatums respectively for the coup plotters to reinstate deposed President Mohamed Bazoum.
ECOWAS threatened to use force if its ultimatum is not complied with, leading to a counter-threat from Burkina Faso and Mali, two West African countries controlled by soldiers who led successful coups.
Nigeria, Niger’s influential neighbour with the largest army, population and economy in West Africa, has also condemned the coup and the Nigerian President, Bola Tinubu, is leading ECOWAS to demand the return of President Bazoum. Apart from the threat to use force, ECOWAS has also imposed a blockade on Niger, frozen its assets and imposed other sanctions on the coup plotters.
The EU, UN, and the US have all condemned the coup and declared support for the steps taken by ECOWAS.
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