US Military to Begin Plans to Withdraw Troops from Niger

The US will begin plans to withdraw troops from Niger. AP
The US will begin plans to withdraw troops from Niger. AP
TT

US Military to Begin Plans to Withdraw Troops from Niger

The US will begin plans to withdraw troops from Niger. AP
The US will begin plans to withdraw troops from Niger. AP

The United States will begin plans to withdraw troops from Niger, US officials said Saturday, in what experts say is a blow to Washington and its allies in the region in terms of staging security operations in the Sahel. The planned departure comes as US officials said they were trying to find a new military agreement.

The prime minister of Niger, appointed by the ruling military junta, Ali Lamine Zeine, and US deputy secretary of state Kurt Campbell, agreed on Friday that the two nations would begin to plan the withdrawal of American troops, the US State Department told The Associated Press in an email Saturday.

A US official said there was no timeline for withdrawal besides talks set to start in the coming days about next steps. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to detail the private diplomatic discussions. An American delegation to coordinate the details of the withdrawal process will be dispatched soon.

Niger plays a central role in the US military’s operations in Africa’s Sahel region, an area on the edge of the Sahara Desert. Washington is concerned about the spread of violence, where local groups have pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and ISIS groups. Niger is home to a major US air base, in the city of Agadez, about 920 kilometers (550 miles) from the capital, Niamey, using it for manned and unmanned surveillance flights and other operations. The US has also invested hundreds of millions of dollars in training Niger’s military since it began operations there in 2013.

But relations have frayed between Niger and Western countries since mutinous soldiers ousted the country’s democratically elected president in July. Niger’s junta has since told French forces to leave and turned instead to Russia for security. Earlier this month, Russian military trainers arrived to reinforce the country’s air defenses and with Russian equipment to train Nigeriens to use.
There was an attempt on the behalf of the US to revise the military agreement with Niger that would allow them to stay, US officials told the AP. But the agreement between Zeine and Campbell shows that the effort has failed.
A separate senior US State Department official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity to speak about sensitive diplomatic talks, told the AP on Saturday that Niger's junta made a decision that they don't want any foreign forces in the country, including the US and that the security partnership was ending for the time being. The junta told the US that Russia's presence was to train Nigeriens on how to operate the equipment. The official said that the US had valid concerns about some of the choices the junta was making, specifically about the potential for Russian and American troops to be colocated.

The loss of access to air bases in Niger is a major setback for the US and its allies in the region because of its strategic location for security operations in the Sahel, said Peter Pham, former US special envoy for the Sahel region.

The United States will begin plans to withdraw troops from Niger, US officials said Saturday, in what experts say is a blow to Washington and its allies in the region in terms of staging security operations in the Sahel. The planned departure comes as US officials said they were trying to find a new military agreement.

The prime minister of Niger, appointed by the ruling military junta, Ali Lamine Zeine, and US deputy secretary of state Kurt Campbell, agreed on Friday that the two nations would begin to plan the withdrawal of American troops, the US State Department told The Associated Press in an email Saturday.

A US official said there was no timeline for withdrawal besides talks set to start in the coming days about next steps. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to detail the private diplomatic discussions. An American delegation to coordinate the details of the withdrawal process will be dispatched soon.

Niger plays a central role in the US military’s operations in Africa’s Sahel region, an area on the edge of the Sahara Desert. Washington is concerned about the spread of violence, where local groups have pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and ISIS groups. Niger is home to a major US air base, in the city of Agadez, about 920 kilometers (550 miles) from the capital, Niamey, using it for manned and unmanned surveillance flights and other operations. The US has also invested hundreds of millions of dollars in training Niger’s military since it began operations there in 2013.

But relations have frayed between Niger and Western countries since mutinous soldiers ousted the country’s democratically elected president in July. Niger’s junta has since told French forces to leave and turned instead to Russia for security. Earlier this month, Russian military trainers arrived to reinforce the country’s air defenses and with Russian equipment to train Nigeriens to use.
There was an attempt on the behalf of the US to revise the military agreement with Niger that would allow them to stay, US officials told the AP. But the agreement between Zeine and Campbell shows that the effort has failed.
A separate senior US State Department official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity to speak about sensitive diplomatic talks, told the AP on Saturday that Niger's junta made a decision that they don't want any foreign forces in the country, including the US and that the security partnership was ending for the time being. The junta told the US that Russia's presence was to train Nigeriens on how to operate the equipment. The official said that the US had valid concerns about some of the choices the junta was making, specifically about the potential for Russian and American troops to be colocated.

The loss of access to air bases in Niger is a major setback for the US and its allies in the region because of its strategic location for security operations in the Sahel, said Peter Pham, former US special envoy for the Sahel region.



Putin Warns West Not to Let Ukraine Use Its Missiles to Hit Russia

 Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Russian Border Guards troop celebrations their service holiday in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Alexander Kazakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Russian Border Guards troop celebrations their service holiday in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Alexander Kazakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
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Putin Warns West Not to Let Ukraine Use Its Missiles to Hit Russia

 Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Russian Border Guards troop celebrations their service holiday in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Alexander Kazakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Russian Border Guards troop celebrations their service holiday in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Alexander Kazakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West on Tuesday that NATO members in Europe were playing with fire by proposing to let Ukraine use Western weapons to strike inside Russia, which he said could trigger a global conflict.

More than two years into the deadliest land war in Europe since World War Two, as the West considers what to do about Russian military advances, Putin is increasingly evoking the risk of a global war, while Western leaders play it down.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the Economist that alliance members should let Ukraine strike deep into Russia with Western weapons, a view supported by some European members of the transatlantic alliance but not the United States.

Russian forces have advanced into Ukraine's Kharkiv province safe in the knowledge that Ukraine cannot attack missile launchers being fired deep inside Russia because it cannot use the Western missiles that have the required range.

Meanwhile, Western-made air defenses cannot attempt to down Russian rockets until they cross the Ukrainian border, only 25 km (15 miles) or so from Ukraine's second city, Kharkiv.

"Constant escalation can lead to serious consequences," Putin told reporters in Tashkent in Uzbekistan.

"If these serious consequences occur in Europe, how will the United States behave, bearing in mind our parity in the field of strategic weapons?"

"It's hard to say - do they want a global conflict?"

Putin said Ukrainian strikes with long-range weapons would need Western satellite, intelligence and military help - so the West would have to be directly involved in such attacks.

He said sending French troops to Ukraine would also be a step towards global conflict and that smaller countries considering deeper involvement "should be aware of what they are playing with" as they had small land areas and dense populations.

"This is a factor that they should keep in mind before talking about striking deep into Russian territory. This is a serious thing, and we are of course watching it very closely," Putin said.

RUSSIAN ADVANCES TRIGGER DEBATE IN WEST

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 touched off the worst breakdown in relations with the West for 60 years.

The invasion has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians, driven millions to flee abroad, and reduced neighborhoods and whole cities to rubble.

Putin casts the war as part of a struggle with the West, which he says is exploiting Ukraine as part of a wider plan to encroach on what he considers Moscow's sphere of influence.

The West and Ukraine cast the attack as a simple land grab: Russia controls 18% of Ukraine, and the crisis is now escalating into what diplomats say is its most dangerous phase.

Russian officials say Moscow's patience is wearing thin after Ukrainian attacks on Russian cities, oil refineries and elements of its nuclear early-warning system.

Putin said Kyiv and its Western backers had provoked Russia's offensive on the Kharkiv region by ignoring repeated warnings not to let Ukraine attack the adjacent Russian region of Belgorod.