The Nigerian Embassy in Moscow announced last week the signing of a legal framework agreement that would provide for Russia to supply Nigeria with military equipment and training. The Agreement on Military-Technical Cooperation also provides for “after-sales services, training of personnel in respective educational establishments, and technology transfer.” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly raised the possibility of such an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2019.
Media sees the agreement as related to U.S. congressional hesitancy to authorize the sale to Nigeria of certain military equipment because of human rights concerns. Indeed, Nigerian desire to buy such materiel—and American reluctance to sell, often on human rights grounds—is a perennial irritant to the bilateral relationship. Nigeria already uses military equipment from Russia and other military suppliers as well as the United States.
The just-signed agreement is a legal framework only; Nigeria has not entered into a new agreement actually to make new purchases. With respect to Nigeria, Russia is likely to be “transactional”—can its companies make money? Any accompanying increase in political influence Moscow will regard as a secondary dividend.