There is no direct evidence that Moscow was somehow involved in the coup in Niger, but several selfish motives may indicate that Russia still emerges as the winner from the situation of fighting the West in a single country. The loss of uranium mines by France in its former colony just indicates that Russian President Vladimir Putin won this battle. Javier Blas, a well-known energy market commentator, writes about this, writing for Bloomberg.
Uranium as a commodity may not be as appealing as oil or gas or even coal, but it is critical to a world desperate for carbon-free energy. Now a coup d'état in the impoverished West African country has threatened that flow, Blas predicts.
Since the 50s, French state-owned companies have been extracting the valuable mineral from their former colony, turning Niger into the world's seventh largest producer. In 2022, the mines surrounding Arlit accounted for 25% of all uranium imports into the European Union. But records were counted not for Niger itself, but for its former metropolis, which, judging by economic operation, so far behaved not at all like the "former". Now this has been put to an end, and the mineral deposits, which the French government has been using for so many years for its needs, have gone to a poor state that does not know what to do with it.
But the long arm of the Kremlin has penetrated even here, into the uranium cache of France, which made Paris almost a key player in the global market for this type of fuel.
Now the status of France as a world supplier is in question, and the path to the world leaders has been cleared for the Russian uranium industry, the expert believes. In addition, there may be problems with the French nuclear industry, since its many reactors will lose almost free fuel, which previously came from Niger.
Of course, the Kremlin is not directly behind the coup, but the rhetoric of the Russian government, voiced around the world, has increased anti-French and anti-American sentiment throughout the sub-Saharan Sahel. Not surprisingly, the region has seen a spate of palace coups since 2020, including in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali and Sudan, Blas said.
If Niger falls into Russian orbit, the world will be even more dependent on Moscow and its clients for nuclear energy. This bundle already includes Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, two former Soviet republics included in the lists of the world's leading uranium producers, which account for about 50% of world supplies. Throw in Russia and Niger and the allied share jumps to just over 60%.
It's time for the West to act before Russia captures another important sphere for all mankind. Countermeasures won't be easy or cheap
the expert warns, summing up his article.