The Russian Defence Ministry’s International Cooperation Directorate is preparing a visit to Sudan in a bid to renew ties with Khartoum, despite Sudan’s relative isolation within the international community since the military coup d’état of October 25. Moscow is still hoping to establish a naval base in the Red Sea.
Over the last few weeks, Russia’s Ministry of Defence’s International Cooperation Directorate has been in negotiations with Sudanese Chief of Staff General Mohamed Osman El Hussein, to prepare the upcoming visit of its delegation to Khartoum. Russia did not condemn the military coup, and at the UN Security Council (UNSC), has manoeuvred behind the scenes to limit the impact of international condemnation of the new regime.
Russia’s diplomatic moves in favour of Khartoum’s new regime, aim to consolidate the power of Sudan’s military officials viewed as being more amenable to Moscow than their civilian counterparts who were side-lined after the coup. Behind Russia’s activism is its desire to establish a naval base in Port Sudan on the shores of the Red Sea, which had been agreed on by deposed president Omar Al Bashir in 2017.
Russian naval base
One year ago, Russia signed an agreement with Sudan to establish a navy base in Port Sudan in Red Sea state for at least 25 years. Moscow is now keen to push ahead with the plan, which is why it wants to send a delegation to Khartoum as soon as possible.
The Russian delegation’s mission will be to wrap up negotiations on the naval base and to determine its location, which has yet to be defined. In his last contact with his Russian counterparts, Gen El Hussein suggested the site of Arkiyae. The Russians expressed their preference for the peninsula of Suakin, 50km south of Port Sudan or Flamingo Bay, north of Port Sudan, which already has a pier.
The deal, published last year on the official portal of government documents, allows Russia to keep up to four navy ships in the Red Sea, including nuclear powered ones.
The agreement can be automatically extended for 10-year periods if none of the parties object.
The document states that the Russian navy base should “help strengthen peace and stability in the region” and is not directed against any third parties. In exchange for Sudan’s permission to set up the base, Russia will provide Sudan with weapons and military equipment.
In 2019, Sudan became the second-largest purchaser of Russian arms in Africa after Algeria, with half of Sudan’s total arms acquisitions sourced from Russia.
Former president Omar Al Bashir approved entry of a Russian gold mining company into the country and was negotiating construction of a Russian oil refinery, as well as a Russian naval base, when he was overthrown.
Moscow is now keen to push ahead with the plan, which is why it wants to send a delegation to Khartoum as soon as possible.
The Russian delegation’s mission will be to wrap up negotiations on the naval base and to determine its location, which has yet to be defined. In his last contact with his Russian counterparts, Chief of Staff Gen. Mohamed Othman al-Hussein had suggested the site of Arkiyae. The Russians had expressed their preference for the peninsula of Suakin located 50km south of Port Sudan or Flamingo Bay, north of Port Sudan, which already has a pier.
The Sudanese Naval Forces received a visiting Russian frigate which docked in Port Sudan in March this year. The visit by the Russian naval vessel fell within the framework of progressing relations between Sudan and Russia, and boosting cooperation between the Sudanese Navy with its Russian counterpart.
(Sources: Africa Intelligence / RD)