No, these images do not show Wagner forces in Niger

By: Rajini KG
August 9 2023

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No, these images do not show Wagner forces in Niger


The Verdict False

The images are from a France24 report of the Wagner group spotted in Mali in 2021. It is unrelated to the 2023 Niger Coup.

Claim ID f08e6b4b


In the backdrop of Niger's military coup, a video alleging that forces of the Russian state-funded private military company Wagner Group were spotted in Niger is circulating on social media. In the video, a television anchor says that a “France24 source has revealed photographic evidence of the military junta has hired the Wagner Group.”

A user on X (formerly Twitter) shared the video and wrote, "BREAKING NEWS : First images of Wagner Forces in Niger are out. France had initially threatened to flatten Niger after they were denied access to uranium and gold. Vladimir Putin is not joking around with the West." The post has garnered 58,000 views and more than 500 likes at the time of writing. The same video was also shared on Facebook (archive here).


However, the video predates the Niger coup, and the images shown in the video are from Mali.

In fact

Logically facts looked for France24 correspondent Cyril Payen’s interview on Wagner forces and found that France24 had uploaded the same video on its YouTube channel on January 11, 2022. The video was titled "Russian mercenaries in Mali : Photos show Wagner operatives in Segou • FRANCE 24 English." The viral video can be seen at the timestamp of 0:09 seconds.


The images were captured by a France24 photographer and allegedly show Wagner Group troops in Segou, Mali. The video report states Wagner Group was hired by a military junta to fight against insurgents despite French and European forces already based in the country. He discussed the photographs with Cyril Payen, another reporter at France24.

According to France24, Colonel Assimi Goïta brought military rule to Mali after a coup in August 2020. After sanctions from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other countries, he later promised to bring civilian rule by conducting an election in February 2022. But in May 2021, a second military coup was reported in Mali. This was also condemned by ECOWAS, and trade sanctions were imposed. 

In September 2021, Mali's military junta was reportedly in a deal with Russia for its military service. Reuters reports that Wagner Group would be paid about 6 billion CFA francs ($10.8 million) monthly for its services.

The same photographs were posted in a news report by Radio France Internationale (RFI) on January 10, 2022. It reports around 200 mercenaries were deployed in Mali. It also states the photos were taken in December 2021 by a local civil observer. In January 2022, the U.S. confirmed the Wagner Group's presence in Mali to VOA News. General Stephen Townsend, the commander of U.S. Africa Command, told VOA that "Wagner (Group) is in Mali. They are there, we think, numbering several hundred now."

The verdict

An old video with images showing the Wagner group in Mali, reported to be from 2021, was falsely linked to the Niger coup. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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