SUDAN approves Russian naval base on the Red Sea

Khartoum (Caasimada Online) – Sudan’s ruling military has completed a review of an agreement with Russia to construct a naval base on the Red Sea in Africa, according to two Sudanese officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The deal has been approved by the military but awaits ratification by a civilian government and a legislative body before taking effect, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. 

The officials stated that Moscow had met Sudan’s recent demands, including providing additional weapons and equipment. The Sudanese officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the Russian government had resolved all of their concerns.

The agreement was signed during the reign of Sudan’s former autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir. It is part of Russia’s broader effort to re-establish a regular naval presence in different parts of the world. 

The pact allows Russia to establish a naval base in Port Sudan on the Red Sea with up to 300 Russian troops and up to four navy ships, including nuclear-powered vessels. 

The base would enable the Russian navy to have a presence in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean without requiring lengthy voyages to reach the area. According to Viktor Bondarev, the former Russian air force chief, this deal would benefit Sudan and Russia. 

In exchange for the construction of the base, Russia will supply Sudan with weapons and military equipment. The agreement will last for 25 years and can be extended automatically for ten-year periods if neither party objects.

Sudan has been without a parliament since April 2019, when a popular uprising led to the military overthrow of al-Bashir, who had been in power for a long time. The country has experienced political instability since a military coup in October 2021 disrupted its brief transition to democracy.

In June 2021, Sudan’s Chief of General Staff, Gen. Mohammed Othman al-Hussein, said Khartoum would review the agreement. In February last year, Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the commander of the Rapid Support Forces, held talks with senior Russian officials in Moscow.  

After the weeklong trip, Dagalo stated that his country had no objections to Russia or any other country establishing a base on its territory as long as it does not threaten Sudan’s national security. 

Sudan is a strategically significant country located in northeastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea. Its location makes it a gateway to both the Middle East and Africa.  

Russia’s renewed interest in Africa and its push to establish military bases in the continent, including Sudan, can be seen as an attempt to counterbalance China and other major world powers who have also increased their presence in the region.

Russia has been making efforts to restore its naval presence in different parts of the world, including the Arctic and the Mediterranean, as part of its overall military modernization program. 

Establishing a naval base in Sudan would allow the Russian navy to operate in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, which are crucial waterways that serve as vital trade routes.