From 13 to 17 September 2023, Kim Jong-un embarked on his first visit to a foreign leader in over four years as he travelled to the Russian Far East to meet Vladimir Putin. This meeting symbolised a convergence of interests in opposing the U.S.-led Western order from which both countries find themselves increasingly isolated. Hence, although the summit did not produce an explicit statement of what was discussed or agreed on at the surface level, the meeting sparked fears of a potential arms deal between the two countries, which could well contribute to revitalising Putin’s war machine in Ukraine (Ye Hee Lee & Bolton, 2023).
The Ukraine war has had a myriad of geopolitics outputs in Europe, from grain commerce, energy supply, and to defence architecture of the continent. For the latter concept, it is well known that the United States plays a significant role in the deterrence equation through NATO (NATO, 2022). Nevertheless, the situation before Russian aggression is likely to change, and the burden of forward posture efforts from the different allies will be realigned.
Today, Niger hosts Niger Air Base 201—the US’s largest drone base (Jones, 2023), located in the city of Agadez—which is used to monitor extremist groups (Gordon, 2023), and to which, “as a precautionary measure” (Mitchell, 2023) after 26 July, the US repositioned a portion of its personnel. Following the coup, which the US only acknowledged as such on 10 October (Miller, 2023), monitoring drone flights were suspended; as of mid-September, they have slowly and discreetly resumed (Gordon, 2023).
Some of the most consequential NATO member states (MSs) which have played a major role in providing financial, military, and humanitarian aid to Kyiv since the beginning of the Ukrainian war, are now reassessing their position in this conflict. Having been the leading forces in sustaining the Ukrainian military effort against the Russian military, they are now displaying a decreasing tendency to continue on the path followed until now.
On 26 July 2023, the military seized power in Niger. General Abdourahamane Tchiani, leader of the Presidential Guard, declared himself head of state, completing the second coup d’état that the country has seen in the last decade, and the fifth since its independence. Four days later, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) issued a one-week ultimatum to the junta: they demanded that President Mohamed Bazoum be restored to power, threatening to impose sanctions and to “use military force in Niger if necessary”.