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Russian troops staying at base housing US forces in Niger

Russian military personnel are staying at an air base in Niger that also hosts U.S. troops and equipment, a U.S. official confirmed to The Hill on Thursday.

The news comes as approximately 1,000 American military personnel are expected to withdraw from Niger due to worsening relations with the African nation following a military coup there last year. The military junta currently controlling Niger’s government has demanded the withdrawal of U.S. troops and is relying on Russia for weapons and security.

Russian troops have been stationed at the 101st Air Force Base, adjacent to Diori Hammani International Airport in the capital Niamey, for “several weeks,” officials told The Hill.

“We are monitoring the situation,” they said, adding that Russian forces do not have access to U.S. personnel, space or equipment and are using a separate hangar at Air Base 101, which is owned by Nigerians.

They also noted that the United States concentrated most of its forces from the 101st Air Base in Agadez to the 201st Air Base immediately after the coup. They did not say how many of the 101 U.S. troops remained or what equipment they had left.

The presence of Russian troops on the 101 will bring American and Kremlin forces into close proximity at a time of major conflict between the two countries over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

First reported by Reuters Regarding the presence of Russian troops at the base.

Last month, the U.S. government announced that U.S. troops would withdraw from Niger after the junta canceled a military cooperation agreement with the U.S. in March. The deal gave the U.S. military a major foothold in fighting extremist groups in the region, including Boko Haram, an offshoot of the Islamic State group.

The forced withdrawal from Niger is a major setback for U.S. forces seeking to quell armed groups across the Sahel, a volatile region of northern Africa that stretches from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Sudan and Eritrea on the Red Sea.

According to Reuters, about 100 US soldiers have also left Chad in recent days.

Niger is following in the footsteps of neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso and is seeking to expand into Russia, including with the private military firm Wagner Group. The organization has ties to Moscow and has a history of exploiting African countries’ resources.

A delegation was sent to Niger last week to coordinate an orderly withdrawal, including U.S. Ambassador to Niger Kathleen Fitzgibbon and Maj. Gen. Kenneth Ekman, U.S. Africa Command’s director of strategy, engagement, and plans. It was.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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