Feeling ‘Snubbed’ By the US, Nigeria Turns to Russia

Nigerian soldiers stand guard at the offices of the state-run Nigerian Television Authority in Maiduguri, Nigeria.

Jon Gambrell/AP

AA Font size + Print

Nigerian soldiers stand guard at the offices of the state-run Nigerian Television Authority in Maiduguri, Nigeria.

Russian special forces are reportedly training Nigerian security forces while Abuja continues to reel from attacks by Boko Haram extremists. By John Campbell

The Vanguard, a Nigerian daily, carried a report on September 28, confirmed by the Ministry of Defense, that 1,200 Nigerian soldiers, police, and Department of State Services (DSS) are being trained by Russian special forces. The Vanguard says that Abuja has turned to Moscow following an “alleged snub or nonchalant attitude of the United States and the United Kingdom toward Nigeria in her fight against Boko Haram terrorists.”

According to the Vanguard, Russian instructors participated in the selection process of those to be trained. The training is to last four months.

South African news portal reports that the Nigerian Army is seeking the funds to purchase at least three advanced surveillance aircraft from the Czech Republic. It also reports that Belarus has agreed to provide twelve attack helicopters for which the Nigerian government will pay in installments over the next seven years.

In September, the National Assembly approved a special allocation of one billion dollars for the struggle against the northern insurgency. Presumably those funds will be used to pay Russia, the Czech Republic, and Belarus for the training and materiel.

(Read More: Why Nigeria Is Able To Beat Ebola, But Not Boko Haram)

Abuja has refused to acknowledge and investigate repeated and credible reports of security service human rights abuses and to prosecute alleged offenders. These abuses largely preclude the United States from providing military training or other assistance to Nigeria under U.S. law, specifically the Leahy amendment.

Nigeria turning elsewhere when the United States and the United Kingdom won’t play is an old song. During the 1993-1998 brutal dictatorship of Sani Abacha, western countries imposed sanctions on Nigeria because of pervasive human rights abuses. Abacha then turned to China and India for military training and materiel.

Russian military training of Nigerian security service personnel may improve their capacity. In theory, special forces should be “force multipliers”, and could make a difference tactically. But, given Russian military behavior in Chechnya, Georgia, and the Ukraine, the training is unlikely to contribute to a badly needed change in Nigeria’s military and police culture, which largely ignores human rights, and will likely fuel support or aquiescence for Boko Haram.

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from DefenseOne.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • GBC Issue Brief: Supply Chain Insecurity

    Federal organizations rely on state-of-the-art IT tools and systems to deliver services efficiently and effectively, and it takes a vast ecosystem of organizations, individuals, information, and resources to successfully deliver these products. This issue brief discusses the current threats to the vulnerable supply chain - and how agencies can prevent these threats to produce a more secure IT supply chain process.

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.