"Chadian President Meets Putin in Moscow Amidst Shifting African Alliances"

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chadian leader Mahamat Idriss Deby on Wednesday, seeking to strengthen ties with a country that had previously followed a pro-Western policy and rejected Russia’s recent overtures in Africa’s Sahel region.

Russia aims to diminish France’s influence, the former colonial power in West Africa and the Sahel, and forge connections with nations that have experienced a series of coups since 2020.

Deby has been in power in Chad since 2021, following a coup shortly after his father, long-serving President Idriss Deby, was killed in battle against anti-government rebels. Initially promising an 18-month transition to elections, the junta later postponed them until October this year.

In brief televised remarks, Putin expressed Russia’s satisfaction with Deby’s efforts to stabilize Chad and offered Russian assistance. According to a transcript on the Kremlin website, Putin stated that the two countries have “significant potential for developing bilateral relations” and announced an increase in the quota for Chadian students studying at Russian universities.

Deby’s visit follows a recent trip to Moscow by the prime minister of Niger, also appointed by a junta. Russia has sought closer ties with Niger since a July 2023 coup removed a pro-Western government.

The coups in Niger and Burkina Faso have brought military governments to power that have distanced themselves from France and turned towards Russia.

While Chad was considered a stronghold of French influence in Africa, Russia’s presence there has been less prominent than in neighboring countries.

In some nations like Mali and the Central African Republic, Russian influence was initially advanced by the Wagner Group, a private military company led by businessman and former Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Prigozhin died in a plane crash last August, following a failed mutiny he led against Russia’s top military leadership, accusing them of mishandling Russia’s military operations in Ukraine.

Since Prigozhin’s passing, Moscow has moved to integrate Wagner’s activities in Africa into its formal state structures, taking control of his network on the continent.

Piers Potter


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