Nigeria to face Boko Haram with Russian equipment and Wagner

ABUJA, ($1= 411.50 Nigerian Naira) – Nigeria’s security is complex in addition to the presence of jihadist groups – including Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa [ISWAP] – in the north-east of the country, Abuja has to deal with criminal and inter-religious groups [between Christians and Muslims, as well as between the latter, between Sunnis and Shiites, the latter representing 2% of the population, editor’s note], against opposition between pastors and sedentary farmers [which has an interethnic dimension, editor’s note], to a revolt in the south that claims better revenue sharing than oil and for piracy [or plunder] off its shores.

Nigeria to face Boko Haram with Russian equipment and Wagner-mi-24 helicopter
Photo credit: Wikipedia

In recent years, and despite relatively good equipment, the Nigerian armed forces have been regularly challenged, especially in the face of Boko Haram and ISWAP, as both jihadist organizations have inflicted heavy losses on them. And so much so that in 2015, Abuja had to call on private military companies [SMPs], especially South African ones, to try to take the situation by hand.

In any case, and given the security challenges it faces, Nigeria has stepped up its military equipment purchases. In particular, from the United States and China, which recently delivered VT-4 and ST-1 tanks, as well as self-propelled howitzers of the SH5 type. In addition, the Nigerian Air Force received its first JF-17 “Thunder” fighters, the result of Sino-Pakistani cooperation.

Recently, and after the Trump administration gave the green light for the sale of 12 light A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft, Nigeria announced its intention to purchase 12 Bell AH-1 Cobra combat helicopters for about $ 1 billion. However, in late July, the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees halted the sale “due to fears of possible human rights abuses” by Nigerian forces, Reuters reported.

For example, human rights NGOs regularly accuse them of using “excessive use” of force, in particular against the Islamic Movement of Nigeria [MIN], a Shiite organization.

However, if it is difficult to obtain the necessary US military equipment, Nigeria can always turn to Russia, which already has to deliver 20 helicopters, including 5 Mi-17s and 15 Mi-24s, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing opex360.com. Especially since military relations between the two countries will intensify in the future, such as the co-operation agreement signed in the area on 23 August.

Described as marking a “historic” cornerstone in bilateral relations between Russia and Nigeria, this agreement “provides a legal framework for […] the provision of after-sales services, staff training [and] technology transfer, among others”, says Nigerian diplomacy.

After the Central African Republic, Mozambique, Libya, or even Mali and Congo, Russia thus offers itself the opportunity to further increase its influence on the African continent, which accounts for between 30% and 40% of its arms exports. sent by Dmitry Chugaev, Director of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation [FSVTS], during the 2021 Army Forum.

This Russian interest in Africa has intensified especially since 2014, after the annexation of Crimea. The aim then was to break its [relative] isolation, while engaging in areas where European countries retained some influence.

And that includes a security offer, which sometimes relies on sending “advisers” who are employees of private military companies [SMPs] like Wagner, who is the most famous. And this in turn allows access to the natural resources of the countries concerned, as seen in the Central African Republic.

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