Fact Check: It Is NOT Confirmed That Russia Is Involved In Military Coup In Niger

Fact Check

  • by: Jamal Halaby
Fact Check: It Is NOT Confirmed That Russia Is Involved In Military Coup In Niger Disputed

Is Russia responsible for the July 26, 2023, coup in Niger, as a tactic to negotiate on its war in Ukraine with the United States and Europe? No, that's unconfirmed: Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said on August 1, 2023, that Russia incited the junta to oust and detain Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum and his family, according to an August 1, 2023, report by Al Jazeera. But in Washington, the White House emphasized on July 27, 2023, that there was no evidence of involvement by Moscow or its Wagner Group in the West African nation.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) posted on TikTok on August 7, 2023, under the title (translated from Arabic to English by Lead Stories staff) "Putin ignites the African continent and forces Europe to negotiate."

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:


(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Wed Aug 9 10:37:53 2023 UTC)

The 59-second video in Arabic showed a man, speaking the Egyptian dialect, speculating that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind the coup led by Niger's Presidential Guard, who purportedly maintain cordial ties with the Wagner Group, a Russian state-funded private military company controlled by a former close ally of Putin.

On August 6, 2023, CNN hosted a Nigerian expert who predicted that the military junta could turn to Wagner mercenaries for support.

At the 41-second mark, the TikTok poster, identified as Ebrahim Ghanim, claimed (translated from Arabic to English by Lead Stories staff):

Putin is doing all this to sit on the negotiating table [with] America and Europe to tell them 'either you give me Ukraine, or I will set all of Africa on fire.'

Podolyak, the Ukrainian president's adviser, told Al Jazeera that Moscow orchestrated the coup in Niger. He described Russia's alleged involvement as a "standard Russian tactic" to "divert attention, seize the moment and expand the conflict."

"Russia has a global scenario for provoking instability to undermine the global security order," he explained.

In Washington, however, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told a press briefing on July 27, 2023, that the government has not identified any substantial evidence supporting involvement by Russia or the Russian Wagner Group in the coup in Niger.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani also debunked the claim in an interview with the renowned daily La Repubblica, published on August 4, 2023. He brushed aside any suspicion of Russian involvement in the coup, asserting that there is no evidence to suggest Russia's hand in Niger's political turmoil.

"We have no information of Russia's involvement in the Nigerien events or the preparation of the coup," Tajani said.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told the BBC on August 8, 2023, that the Wagner Group is "taking advantage" of instability in Niger.

Blinken said he did not think Russia or Wagner instigated Niger's coup but pointed out that Washington was worried about the group "possibly manifesting itself" in parts of the Sahel region. "I think what happened, and what continues to occur in Niger was not instigated by Russia or Wagner, but... they tried to take advantage of it.

"Every single place that this Wagner group has gone, death, destruction, and exploitation have followed," Blinken told the BBC's Focus on Africa program. "Insecurity has gone up, not down," he added.

According to the BBC, there have been suggestions that Niger coup leaders "have asked for help" from Wagner, and the group is known to be "present" in neighboring Mali.

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  Jamal Halaby

Jamal Halaby is a fact-checker, who has been working with Lead Stories for nearly two years, helping bring the truth and factual information to the organization's global audience. With extensive background in investigative journalism and content writing and editing in Arabic and English, Jamal uses that experience to expose a burgeoning market of misinformation and disinformation. Previously, he worked as a writer for the Associated Press and several other reputable international news organizations. He has a passion for empirical analysis and discerning the veracity of the news.

Read more about or contact Jamal Halaby

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