Several witnesses and sources from the Um Dafug area of South Darfur which borders on the Central African Republic (CAR) have reported the presence of about 500 Russian soldiers who have been received and hosted by the government in a camp 15 kilometres south of Um Dafug.
Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that the Russian forces had 50 vehicles with other military equipment.
They said that the forces have constructed a sandy area on the border of South Darfur to receive helicopters.
They said government, military, and security officials regularly visit them in the area. According to local sources and witnesses, the exact purpose of the Russian presence on the border with CAR for five months has remained unknown.
Western diplomatic sources had previously spoken of a Russian-Sudanese cooperation in the CAR crisis, prompting reservations by France and the USA, which reject any Russian presence in the region.
On July 13, Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir travelled to Moscow at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The talks between the two Presidents will focus on the economic relations, establishing a strategic partnership for development, enhancement of the joint cooperation in the political and economic fields, increasing investment opportunities, especially the in the areas of agriculture and power and implementation of the Russian-supported programme of modernisation of the Sudanese army.
In November 2017, Al Bashir met with Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, during which Bashir asked Russia to protect Sudan from “aggressive acts of the United States”, which raised eyebrows in Washington.