Russian troops enter base housing US military in Niger, US official says

Russian troops enter base housing US military in Niger, US official says

WASHINGTON, May 2 (Reuters) – Russian military personnel have entered an air base in Niger that is hosting U.S. troops, a senior U.S. defense official told Reuters, a move that follows a decision by Niger’s junta to expel U.S. forces.
The military officers ruling the West African nation have told the U.S. to withdraw its nearly 1,000 military personnel from the country. A senior U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Russian forces were not mingling with U.S. troops but were using a separate hangar at Airbase 101, which is next to Diori Hamani International Airport in Niamey, Niger’s capital.
The move by Russia’s military, which Reuters was the first to report, puts U.S. and Russian troops in close proximity at a time when the nations’ military and diplomatic rivalry is increasingly acrimonious over the conflict in Ukraine.
It also raises questions about the fate of U.S. installations in the country following a withdrawal.
Asked about the Reuters report, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin played down any risk to American troops or the chance that Russian troops might get close to U.S. military hardware. “The Russians are in a separate compound and don’t have access to U.S. forces or access to our equipment,” Austin told a press conference in Honolulu.
The Nigerien and Russian embassies in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The U.S. and its allies have been forced to move troops out of a number of African countries following coups that brought to power groups eager to distance themselves from Western governments.
The U.S. official said Nigerien authorities had told President Joe Biden’s administration that about 60 Russian military personnel would be in Niger, but the official could not verify that number. After the coup, the U.S. military moved some of its forces in Niger from Airbase 101 to Airbase 201 in the city of Agadez. It was not immediately clear what U.S. military equipment remained at Airbase 101.
The United States built Airbase 201 in central Niger at a cost of more than $100 million. Since 2018 it has been used to target Islamic State and al Qaeda affiliate Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) fighters with armed drones.
Washington is concerned about Islamic militants in the Sahel region, who may be able to expand without the presence of U.S. forces and intelligence capabilities.
Niger’s move to ask for the removal of U.S. troops came after a meeting in Niamey in mid-March, when senior U.S. officials raised concerns including the expected arrival of Russia forces and reports of Iran seeking raw materials in the country, including uranium.
A two-star U.S. general has been sent to Niger to try and arrange a professional and responsible withdrawal.
While no decisions have been taken on the future of U.S. troops in Niger, the official said the plan was for them to return to U.S. Africa Command’s home bases, located in Germany.

About Us

Youth Diplomacy Forum is a non-partisan, non-political, and non-governmental Organization for the youth across the world.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *