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Region of Concern: Burkina Faso

Written By Laura Arrijuria; Edited by Cameron Munoz, Senior Editor

Date: September 1, 2023

Map Of Burkina Faso[1]

Event: On August 31, Ibrahim Traore, the Burkinabe military coup leader, received a Russian delegation led by Deputy Defence Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov. During the meeting, both countries agreed on future military cooperation, which includes Russian training for all Burkinabe soldiers and pilots. The meeting and decisions follow previous discussions between President Putin and Traore during the Russia-Africa summit in July in St. Petersburg. Earlier this year, Burkina Faso demanded the departure of French troops from the country, and the troops withdrew in February[2]. Following the French withdrawal, Burkina Faso sought new forms of cooperation with Russia to counter terrorism. The government called Russia “a strategic ally” in the fight against jihadist armed groups[3]. Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have increased collaborations to respond to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) potential military intervention in Niger, with Niger allowing Mali and Burkina Faso to enter the country in case of an attack[4]. The Niger junta called for support from the Russian-backed Wagner Group in case of an ECOWAS action[5]. Mali has reinforced military cooperation with Russia, which has notably maintained its support by vetoing a proposal to prolong UN sanctions on Mali.[6]

Significance: Mali and Burkina Faso will very likely support Niger during an ECOWAS military intervention in response to the coup. Burkinabe soldiers will likely benefit from Russian military training and implement Russian military techniques in case of a confrontation with ECOWAS. An involvement of Wagner mercenaries in the training of Burkinabe soldiers will also likely occur as Vladimir Putin is likely seeking mercenaries to serve Russia following Yevgeny Prigozhin’s death. Burkinabe soldiers will likely receive similar military methods to the ones used in the invasion of Ukraine. As Western countries will almost certainly continue to support ECOWAS, Niger could very likely become the center of geopolitical instability. Potential Russian military involvement supporting the Niger junta will very likely create diplomatic division within and outside of the continent. Russia is unlikely to stop voicing and supporting juntas in African countries. In Burkina Faso, Russia is almost certainly trying to secure an ally for its invasion of Ukraine, increase diplomatic ties, and boost its economic, military, and political influence. Russia will likely exploit Wagner’s network and presence on the continent by using mercenaries for military support in counter-terrorism efforts in Burkina Faso. The Burkinabe population could likely face increased violence, food insecurity, instability, and rights violations due to the mercenaries' presence. As Burkina Faso is also facing a food crisis, the country will likely seek to receive Russian grain. Russia will likely take advantage of this situation to increase its influence on the country.

Recommendations: CTG recommends that ECOWAS increase security measures and military presence on its borders with junta-led countries to prepare for potential actions from Mali and Burkina Faso. CTG recommends ECOWAS allied countries such as France and the US increase diplomatic pressure on the Niger junta and implement initiatives to maintain dialogue with junta-led countries. CTG also recommends that ECOWAS and Western powers implement diplomatic pressure on Russia to clarify its stance and actions with junta-led African countries. Humanitarian organizations in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger should work on increasing trust in ECOWAS. CTG also recommends these organizations implement actions and dialogue to counter potential Russian disinformation campaigns in Burkina Faso. The UN and the African Union (AU) should also pressure the return of President Bazoum in Niger and a de-escalation of the military preparation of Burkina Faso and Mali for involvement in Niger.


[1]Burkina Faso regions map” by Peter Fitzgerald licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

[3] Burkina Faso interim leader hails Russia as a strategic ally, Reuters, May 2023,

[4] Niger allows Mali, Burkina Faso troops to enter its territory in case of attack, Reuters, August 2023,

[5] Niger junta seeks Wagner support as ECOWAS deadline approaches, Africa News, August 2023,

[6] Russia vetoes UN resolution on Mali sanctions, France 24, August 2023,



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