Russian and US troops are operating at the same base in Niger amid war tensions in Ukraine

May 03, 2024 04:50 IST

Niamey (Niger), May 3 (ANI): Russian and US forces have been operating from the same military base in Niger for several weeks, according to a US defense official and another source familiar with the situation, as reported by CNN.
The development puts the two forces in close proximity amid heightened tensions over the conflict in Ukraine and the junta’s opposition to the withdrawal of US troops from the country.
Although both Russian and American forces operate from Air Base 101 in Niger, they use separate facilities. The Russians occupy a separate hangar on the base, ensuring physical separation from U.S. personnel. However, given the limited space, the closeness between the two forces remains remarkable.
The presence of Russian troops at the base has fueled tensions between the US and Niger’s military junta, which seized power in a coup in July 2023. It raises concerns among U.S. officials about Niger’s possible pivot toward Russia, especially given the country’s historic role as a vital hub for U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the region.

In March, US diplomatic and military representatives, including General Michael Langley and Celeste Wallander, expressed concern about the escalating Russian military presence during their visit to Niger. Questions were raised about the fate of Air Base 101 and the possibility that it would be transferred to Russian control, CNN previously reported.
After the tense meeting, Niger announced its decision to terminate the agreement that has allowed U.S. military and civilian personnel to operate in the country since 2014. Consequently, the US military is working with Nigerien authorities to facilitate an orderly withdrawal of troops from the country, confirmed by the Pentagon.
Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said another US delegation will visit Niger “hopefully… this week” to further discuss the withdrawal process. However, military flights in and out of the country are subject to approval by the Nigerien government.
Deepening military cooperation between Russia and Niger has been a central point of contention between the US and the Nigerien junta. The Russian Defense Ministry announced an agreement in January to strengthen military ties with Niger, while Russian media announced plans to send equipment and 100 military trainers to the country. Nevertheless, sources indicate that Russian troops were present in Niger before April.
In a separate development, the US military has begun withdrawing troops from a French military base in Chad after the government demanded their departure last month. More than half of the US troops stationed at the N’Djamena base have moved to Germany, CNN reported. (ANI)