Chad, an ally of France, is a “brother country” of Russia, said transitional president Mahamat Idriss Déby on Wednesday January 24, received by Vladimir Putin, who assured him in return that Moscow could help “ stabilize the situation” in the country. Russia has set itself the objective of regaining its influence in Africa, lost after the fall of the USSR. The Kremlin has focused its efforts in the Sahel countries to compete with France, notably deploying paramilitary groups.

“I came as a friendly country, a brother country, a sovereign country [which wants] to strengthen its relations with a friendly country,” declared General Déby, believing that his visit to Moscow would help “strengthen [their] relations bilateral”. Vladimir Putin congratulated him for having “succeeded in stabilizing the situation” in Chad and affirmed that Russia would “contribute to this by all possible means”. Relations between Chad and Russia “have particularly developed in recent years,” he rejoiced.

This visit and these warm remarks provide a new illustration of Russia’s efforts to influence the Sahel. Chad, where the French army still maintains a contingent, is the last privileged partner of Paris in the Sahel, after the forced and forced withdrawal of French soldiers from Mali in August 2022, from Burkina Faso in February 2023 and from Niger last December . Each of these three countries moved closer to Russia at the same time, particularly on a military level. The Chadian army is considered the pillar of the war against jihadists in the region.

On Wednesday, Vladimir Putin said he was “certain” that general elections would be held in Chad “in the near future”. In mid-January, General Mahamat Idriss Déby was named candidate for the presidential election scheduled to be held at the end of 2024. In April 2021, he was proclaimed transitional president by the army, at the head of a junta of fifteen generals. , after the death of his father, Idriss Déby Itno, killed by rebels on his way to the front. The leader had promised to organize elections at the end of an eighteen-month “transition”, then postponed this deadline by two years.

General Déby also presented his “condolences” to Vladimir Putin for the death of “Russian soldiers” in the crash of a military plane near Ukraine on Wednesday. The plane was carrying 74 people, including 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war.