Hungary Deepens Bilateral Ties With Chad

Trigger time at Flintlock 20, USAFRICOM from Stuttgart, Germany.

“Prime Minister Viktor Orban has decided to deploy a military contingent to Chad for two years before March 2024 to assist the country economically, prevent illegal immigration, and help combat terrorism.”

In recent years, France, the historical European power in West Africa, has been withdrawing from the region, while Russia has been reasserting its military and political influence.[i] Additionally, Hungary, a country with a foreign policy more aligned with Russia than other European Union (EU) countries, has begun expanding its footprint in West Africa. As the excerpted French-language article in the Chadian news website notes, Hungary has signed military, educational, health, agricultural, and energy memoranda of understanding with Chad. Both countries have expressed the desire to strengthen their bilateral ties.

A French-language article on the website of Radio France Internationale, provides additional details, reporting that Hungary intends to send between 200 and 400 soldiers to Chad to focus on stopping migration, countering terrorism, and providing humanitarian assistance. The article also notes that with instability surrounding Chad, the country has become a refugee hub. This is why Hungary is setting up a permanent base in the country and why Hungary’s foreign minister stated his country was determined not to let Chad collapse.

The article acknowledged the domestic policy motivations for Hungary, which, like Russia, has become antagonistic to the EU, despite Hungary being a member-state.[ii] Further, according to the article, Hungarian media has promoted the story that the EU plans to establish “migrant ghettos” in Hungary. This represents an effort to sway Hungarian public opinion for foreign policy measures to stop migration, such as the new measures in Chad. It also appears Hungary is aligning its foreign policy in Africa with Russia’s. Russia is over-extended in Africa because of its Ukraine operations and can only deploy a few thousand former Wagner fighters to Africa, seemingly in the context of the Africa Corps. However, in countries where former Wagner troops are not operational, Hungary can step in and support juntas or other authoritarian regimes, such as Chad, which is seeing diminishing Western support. The emerging “coup belt” countries in West Africa will be empowered and less likely to restore civilian rule like the juntas had originally promised now that Russia and seemingly Hungary are backing them.


“Coopération: Le Tchad et la Hongrie renforcent leur coopération dans plusieurs domaines (Cooperation: Chad and Hungary strengthen their cooperation in several domains),” (Privately owned French-language Chadian website noted for being critical of the government), 8 December 2023.

During a joint press conference, the two diplomats highlighted the advantages and objectives of the agreements, emphasizing their importance in strengthening the new and strengthened cooperation while respecting the interests of each country…. They expressed their confidence in strengthening ties between Chad and Hungary, and stressed that the bilateral cooperation will benefit both peoples and contribute to regional stability. According to Ndjamena, the agreements signed on December 7, 2023 create a pathway for productive collaboration between Chad and Hungary and offere new opportunities for economic growth, social development, and scientific progress.

“La Hongrie compte envoyer des militaires au Tchad pour lutter contre «les migrations» (Hungary plans to send soldiers to Chad to fight against “migration),” (French state-owned radio news website reporting on international affairs), 19 November 2023.

As Budapest is strongly opposed to the European refugee acceptance policy, it continues to claim that it is necessary to “support the management of problems where they begin and not transfer them to Europe”, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has decided to deploy a military contingent to Chad for two years before March 2024 to assist the country economically, prevent illegal immigration, and help combat terrorism. Instead of welcoming refugees to Hungary, Viktor Orban’s government prefers to support the African people there. Hungary will send between 200 and 400 soldiers to Chad. The government continues to generate fear of migration in the run-up to the 2024 European elections. The Hungarian Post began sending a government questionnaire to all Hungarians, which was published on the Internet. It has questions such as “Brussels wants to install migrant ghettos in Hungary. Do you agree ?” which is a totally false statement.


[i] The French withdrawal from West Africa was a major trend in 2023. The year concluded with the French Embassy in Niger announcing that it was ending its diplomatic presence in the country. France also withdrew its 4,500-troop Operation Barkhane force from Mali in August 2022 and withdrew its troops from Burkina Faso in February 2023. These events have all occurred after coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger in May 2021, January 2022, and July 2023, respectively, which France and the West denounced. Russia, in contrast, has backed the post-coup military regimes. For more on Burkina Faso’s role as a bellwether of Russian and France in West Africa, see Jason Warner, “Burkina Faso: A Bellwether on Russian and French Presence,” OE Watch, 11-2022.

[ii] Since Viktor Orbán became Prime Minister in 2010, Hungary has passed several illiberal legislative bills, with strict anti-migrant legislation as a core policy. Hungary also has embraced the authoritarian leaders in Russia and China and helped to deepen their political and economic influence throughout Central Europe. Although little existing research has discussed Hungary coordinating or aligning its foreign policy with that of Russia, Hungary’s cultivating security ties specifically with Chad—whose authoritarian leader since 2021, Mahamat Déby, succeeded his father, who ruled for three decades—notably comes at a time when Russia is supporting other military-authoritarian regimes in West Africa as well, which border Chad, including in Sudan, Libya, Central African Republic, Mali, and Niger. For an assessment of Russian influence on Hungary, see Dr. Péter Krekó, “ING2 Committee Hearing on Russian interference in the EU: the distinct cases of Hungary and Spain,” European Parliament, 27 October 2022.

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Image: Trigger time at Flintlock 20, USAFRICOM from Stuttgart, Germany.
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Russia’s “Africa Corps” Set To Replace Wagner in Niger

Russian mercenaries provide security for convoy with president of the Central African Republic

“The future Russian Army “Africa corps” is presented by certain Telegram channels as intended to replace Wagner.”

Russia’s Wagner Group became heavily involved in Africa in the years before the death of its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin in an airplane crash in August 2023. The mercenary fighter company deployed its troops primarily to West African countries where France was the security guarantor but had become ostracized by military juntas and authoritarian regimes, such as in Mali, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, and Sudan.[i] Wagner, in turn, became a key means for Russia to exert influence on the leadership of those countries, which often resulted in Russia being granted special concessions, such as access to resources. However, the Wagner brand name has fallen out of favor with the Kremlin for African operations following Prigozhin’s rebellion against Russian leadership. Yet, the benefit for Russia of having mercenary military formations in Africa still exists. As a result, Russia may replace Wagner with a new, but similarly purposed, “Africa Corps.”

The excerpted French-language article on the website of Radio France Internationale highlighted the visit in December 2023 of Russian Deputy Minister of Defense Evkourov (often spelled Yevkurov) to Niger, where the two countries agreed to strengthen military cooperation.[ii] The was significant because it was the first time a Russian delegation visited Niger since the 2023 coup and demonstrated Russia’s endorsement of Niger’s new military junta, whereas Western countries criticized the coup. Additionally, only one month after the coup, the new junta in Niger requested from Russia Wagner’s protection of the junta from internal and external threats, including a potential military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (See Jason Warner, “West African States Split On Potential Intervention In Niger,” OE Watch, Issue # 08, 2023,  Evkourov’s visit solidifies the new partnership between Russia and Niger, with Wagner—or the new “Africa Corps”— as the vehicle for Russian influence. The article noted that, based on an analysis of Telegram social media channels, “Africa Corps,” like Wagner, would welcome mercenaries. Indeed, the offer of a relatively high salary, health insurance with free medical care, and life insurance, all under the supervision of Evkourov, would motivate mercenaries to join. Such inducements attract, in particular, Russian Army veterans whose professional skill set and sense of adventure is otherwise not compatible with civilian life. Further, the article indicates Russian military intelligence and businessmen close to Vladimir Putin support “Africa Corps.” The similarities between Wagner and “Africa Corps” strongly suggest the latter is a continuation of the former under different branding.


“Russie: Moscou prépare un «corps militaire africain» pour prendre la suite de Wagner (Russia: Moscow is preparing an “African military corps” to replace Wagner),” Radio France Internationale, (French state-owned radio news website reporting on international affairs), 5 December 2023.épare-un-corps-militaire-africain-pour-prendre-la-suite-de-wagner

A Russian delegation led by the Deputy Minister of Defense is in Niamey. This is the first official visit by a member of the Russian government to this country since the July 26 coup which broke diplomatic relations between Niger and its international partners. The delegation led by the Russian Deputy Minister of Defense, Colonel-General Younous-bek Bamatguireevich Evkourov, was received by the head of the Nigerien military regime, General Abdourahamane Tiani. At the end of the meeting, the parties continued “to sign documents to strengthen military cooperation between the Republic of Niger and the Russian FederationThe future Russian Army “African corps” is presented by certain Telegram channels as intended to replace Wagner. Former mercenaries would be welcome. The conditions include a high salary of nearly 3,000 euros, free medical care, and life and health insurance, all under the supervision of Deputy Defense Minister Yunous-bek Bamatguireevich Evkourov. Other sources suggest that the unit receives direct patronage from Russian military intelligence, under the leadership of a businessman close to the president… This last scenario would be very similar to that applied to Wagner


[i] In the final week of December 2023, the last remaining 1,500 French troops withdrew from Niger. In addition, Niger previously vowed to stop selling minerals to France and removed diplomatic immunity from the French Ambassador to Niger, who departed the country in August. With the closure of the French Embassy in Niamey on 31 December 2023, the 127 years of a French diplomatic presence in Niger came to an end. This followed a similar French withdrawal from Burkina Faso earlier in 2023 and from Mali in 2022. For additional details, see Morgane Le Cam, “France completes troop withdrawal from Niger, closes embassy,”, 22 December 2023.

[ii] Evkourov is an interesting choice to lead Africa Corps because he was close to Yevgeny Prigozhin but remained loyal to the Russian Defense Ministry during Prigozhin’s mutiny. Evkourov played a mediating role during the mutiny. When Prigozhin’s Wagner forces entered Rostov and seized the city center, Evkourov received Prigozhin hospitably and defused tensions. However, after Prigozhin’s death, Evkourov led a delegation to Syria, Libya, Central African Republic, and other countries where Wagner operated and told Wagner forces that the Defense Ministry would take over the leadership of Wagner.

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Image: Russian mercenaries provide security for convoy with president of the Central African Republic
Source: Clément Di Roma/VOA,
Attribution: CC x 2.0

Nigerien Civilians Calm Despite Threat of Conflict With Benin

The Benin-Niger border crossing is set to be closed as per Niger’s fears that Benin might use the crossing to move ECOWAS troops and French equipment into Niger.

“[Benin] is accused of welcoming and transporting French equipment and ECOWAS soldiers to the border with Niger…At that location, residents say they are less worried.”

On 18 September, the Cameroon-based website,, published the below excerpted French-language article, which highlighted ongoing tensions in the region between Niger and Benin. According to the article, Niger’s military coup leaders, who overthrew the country’s democratically elected leadership in August, are closing the border with Benin. The new coup leaders in Niger allege that Benin is transporting Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) soldiers and French equipment to the border to support a potential invasion of Niger to restore the country’s civilian leadership.[i] The article notes that civilians in the Nigerien town of Gaya, which is situated near the border with Benin, remain unconcerned. Some civilians, for example, point to the longstanding territorial dispute over Lété (Summer) Island in the Niger River between Benin and Niger that began in 1963.[ii] The ramping up of forces on the Nigerien side of the border in response to the alleged ECOWAS actions now resembles that of 1963, but, civilians expect tensions to subside as they did 50 years ago. Nevertheless, geopolitical circumstances are different now. As the second excerpted French-language article from 20 September in Jeune Afrique reported, Niger has significant support in the Sahel from other post-coup countries, such as Mali and Burkina Faso. For example, the article mentioned how Burkina Faso passed a law authorizing the country’s military forces to aid Niger if any other “external army,” such as Benin’s, intervenes in Niger’s domestic affairs. Unlike the border dispute in 1963, the current tensions have a greater probability of reverberating throughout West Africa.


“Niger: l’armée renforce son dispositif à la frontière du Bénin (Niger: the army reinforces its presence on the border with Benin),” (French-language Cameroon-based publication covering Francophone African affairs), 18 September 2023.

Nigerien soldiers reinforced their security measures in Gaya, a border town between Malanville in Benin and Kamba in Niger that is located more than 300 kilometers from Niamey. [Benin] is accused of welcoming and transporting French equipment and ECOWAS soldiers to the border with Niger.

At that location, residents state that they are less worried…. In the years 1963-64 there were tensions between Benin and [Niger] because of Lété Island and there was a law enforcement deployment in Gaya. So this is the second time that we have this type of deployment…,” explained a resident.

“Le Burkina Faso vote une loi autorisant l’envoi de soldats au Niger (Burkina Faso votes for a law authorizing the sending of soldiers to Niger),” Jeune Afrique (French language online publication focusing on pan-African affairs), 20 September 2023.

On September 19, the Transitional Legislative Assembly passed a law authorizing the sending for “three renewable months” a military contingent to neighboring Niger, which has been threatened by an armed intervention of West African countries since the coup of July 26. The law, which was proposed by the transitional government, was unanimously approved by 71 members.These three countries [Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali], which are led by military regimes, signed a charter on September 16 in Bamako to establish an alliance of “collective defense and mutual assistance”, thus creating the Alliance of Sahel States (AES).


[i] On 5 August, Benin announced that it would support ECOWAS to resolve the political unrest in neighboring Niger. Several West African states expressed willingness to military intervene in Niger if ECOWAS sanctioned an intervention. This could, therefore, imply that Benin will become a launchpad for an ECOWAS invasion of Niger if an invasion is sanctioned. See Philip Churm, “Benin pledges support for ECOWAS over Niger,”, 5 August 2023, 2023.

[ii] In the early 1960s, Dahomey (as Benin was known until 1975) and Niger failed to resolve through negotiations their border dispute over Lété (Summer) Island, but both countries’ militaries eventually disengaged from the border region. Ultimately, the International Court of Justice ruled in Niger’s favor in 2011. The island is 16 km long and 4 km wide and is passable by foot for pastoralists from one bank of the river to the other bank during the dry season. For more, see: Markus Kornprobst, “The management of border disputes in African regional subsystems: comparing West Africa and the Horn of Africa,” Journal of Modern African Studies 40:3 (2002), 369-393.

Image Information:

Image: The Benin-Niger border crossing is set to be closed as per Niger’s fears that Benin might use the crossing to move ECOWAS troops and French equipment into Niger.
Source: YoTuT from United States
Attribution: CC x 2.0