Russian troops operating out of same base in Niger that hosts some US troops, two officials say


(WASHINGTON) — Russian military personnel are operating out of an air base in Niger that is still hosting a small number of American troops, two U.S. officials tell ABC News.

One of the officials said the Russian trainers arrived several weeks ago at Niger’s “Airport 101” near the capital of Niamey, and do not present an immediate security concern to U.S. troops.

The Russian forces are operating out of a hangar at a location far away from U.S. forces and not on any property owned or being used by the United States, the officials said Thursday.

“The Russians are housed in a separate compound and do not have access to US forces, spaces, or equipment,” one official said.

Still, the development — first reported by Reuters — speaks to U.S. concerns that Russia is aggressively trying to gain a foothold in West Africa, and specifically Niger where U.S. troops have been asked to leave after building a remote $150 million counterterrorism drone base in Agadez.

Following a coup in July 2023, the ruling junta in Niger demanded the exodus of U.S. troops. Talks between the two countries broke down this spring, and the Pentagon said it would comply by withdrawing forces but didn’t say how soon.

The Russian military instructors arrived in Niger about three weeks ago, citing an agreement between the junta and Russian President Vladimir Putin to increase cooperation, according to several media reports citing Niger state television.

A U.S. official declined to say how many American troops remained at Airport 101 within proximity of the Russian forces there, but said the footprint was minimal.

The Biden administration had already begun consolidating troops in the region last fall as a precautionary measure, relocating troops at Airport 101 to the U.S. drone base in Agadez some 571 miles away.

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