NIAMEY - Russian military personnel have entered an airbase in Niger hosting US troops, amid Niger's decision to force American military forces out of the country.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed the development on Friday while downplaying it. He said that there were no major concerns as the Russian troops did not have any access to US personnel or equipment.

"Airbase 101 where our forces [are], is a Nigerien air force base that is co-located with an international airport in the capital city. The Russians are in a separate compound and don't have access to US forces or access to our equipment," Austin told a news conference in Honolulu.

"Right now, I don't see a significant issue here in terms of our force protection," he added.

On Thursday, a senior US defense official disclosed that Russian troops were stationed at Airbase 101 near Diori Hamani International Airport in Niamey, Niger, but were not interacting with US forces, they told Reuters news agency, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Reports of Russian deployment to the airbase emerged after Niger informed Washington in March to withdraw the nearly 1,000 US military personnel stationed in the country.

The deployment brings American and Russian troops into close proximity, intensifying the already strained military and diplomatic relationship between the two nations due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Following a potential pullout, questions are also being raised regarding the future of Washington's facilities in the region.

"(The situation) is not great but in the short-term manageable," the official who spoke with Reuters said.

The US official also stated that Nigerien authorities had informed President Joe Biden's administration that approximately 60 Russian military personnel would be present in Niger. However, the official was unable to confirm the exact number.

Washington and its allies have been compelled to withdraw their troops from several African countries due to the rise of military leaders through coups, who have expressed their desire to create a divide between themselves and Western governments.

Following the coup in Niger in July last year, Washington relocated a portion of its troops stationed in Niger from Airbase 101 to Airbase 201 situated in Agadez in central Niger.

American troops which are set to leave Niger soon, have already departed from Chad, while, the French military has been expelled from Mali and Burkina Faso in recent days.

In March, Niger's junta said that it revoked a military accord with the US that allowed military personnel and civilian staff from the Pentagon on its soil.

The withdrawal of American troops from Niger will follow the pullout of troops from France, the former colonial power that for the past decade has led the so-called foreign counter-terrorism efforts against Takfiri groups in West Africa.

Nigerian people took to the streets of Niamey on April 13 to demand the departure of American troops, after the junta further gravitated to Russia, welcoming Russian military instructors.