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Hundreds in Niger rally for exit of US forces as Russia offers military aid 

Hundreds of citizens protested in Niger’s capital on Saturday, demanding the withdrawal of United States forces amid the arrival of Russian military instructors. 

In central Niamey (Niger capital), protesters linked arms and waved Nigerien flags, echoing the anti-French demonstrations that contributed to France’s military exit following last year’s coup. 

A hand-held sign in English proclaimed, “USA rush out of Niger,” demonstrating support for the junta’s mid-March decision to cancel an agreement that permitted roughly 1,000 US military staff to operate from two bases on Nigerien soil. 

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Niger state television RTN reported that military instructors and personnel from Russia’s defense ministry have arrived in the country.  

During a Thursday broadcast, RTN aired footage of a military cargo plane being unloaded while personnel in fatigues observed. The channel reported that this deployment was the result of a recent agreement to enhance cooperation between Niger’s junta and Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Russia, which has been striving to expand its influence in Africa by promoting itself as a nation without a colonial history on the continent, did not immediately respond to comments. 

Russian instructors arrived following Niger’s mid-March decision to terminate a military agreement with the United States, which had previously permitted Pentagon staff to operate from two bases on its territory, including a drone base constructed at a cost exceeding $100 million. 

Meanwhile, the Pentagon later stated that US officials had raised concerns with Niger regarding its potential ties with Russia before the junta terminated the agreement that governed the presence of about 1,000 US military personnel.