By Timur Fomenko
Should the coup in Niger ultimately succeed, the new authorities are intent on forming closer relations with Russia, which can become a new and much less complicated guarantor of security. While China typically provides economic and infrastructure assistance to African states, as well as a guarantee of non-intervention and support for national sovereignty, it is less overt and restrained in providing specific military support to crush insurgencies, which is more Russia’s niche.
Niger of course has strategic significance too. While it is easy to dismiss it as a landlocked and impoverished country in the middle of the desert, Niger has a critical stock of natural resources, including uranium, coal, gold, iron ore, tin, phosphates, petroleum, molybdenum, salt, and gypsum. Its uranium supplies are among the world’s largest, which is absolutely critical for nuclear power. It is for this reason that France is not willing to give up Niger without a fight, and a potential proxy conflict may loom. If Western-backed interests in the country are defeated, the strategic loss of Niger in terms of the resources it wields would be huge, and it is highly likely that China would gain an advantage over the West in the process.