The Kremlin on Monday asked all sides to exercise restraint in Niger, where a junta seized power last week in a coup and detained President Mohamed Bazoum. “We call for the rapid restoration of the rule of law in the country and for restraint from all parties so that this doesn’t result in human casualties,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. In the third coup in as many years against a leader in the Sahel, the head of the powerful presidential guard General Abdourahamane Tiani has declared himself leader. Tiani said the putsch was a response to “the degradation of the security situation” linked to jihadist bloodshed, as well as corruption and economic woes. African leaders on Sunday gave the junta one week to cede power back or face the possible use of force. “What is happening (in Niger) is a matter of grave concern,” Peskov said. Bazoum is one of a dwindling group of elected presidents and pro-Western leaders in the Sahel, where since 2020 a jihadist insurgency has also triggered coups in Mali and Burkina Faso. Tensions were high on Monday as the new junta accused former colonial ruler France of wanting to “intervene militarily” to reinstate Bazoum.