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Russia plans naval base on Sudan’s strategic Red Sea

Russian_naval_ships (Ministry of Defense/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russia plans to build a naval base in Sudan, according to a bilateral draft agreement between the two nations.

The agreement would allow Russia to establish a naval logistics base in Sudan for the repair and supply of warships as well as provide rest to sailors, according to the document published on November 11 on a Russian government website after Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin approved it.

A naval base in Sudan would expand Russian influence in northeast Africa along vital shipping routes in the Red Sea and Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

The draft agreement says that up to 300 crew and four warships may stay at the naval logistics base, including ships with nuclear-propulsion systems.

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Russia has economic and geopolitical interests in Sudan, a country rich in oil and other minerals.

Sudan is also one of the top importers of Russian arms in Africa.

The agreement states that Russia is willing to deliver weapons and military hardware to Sudan for free in order maintain the air defense of the Sudanese naval base at Port Sudan, where the Russian naval facility would be built.

Sudan’s economic crisis deepened following the 2019 ouster of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in a coup that left the country in the hands of a joint civilian-military transitional government that is seeking to end the country’s international isolation.

Bashir first asked Russia to build a base along the Red Sea in 2017, due in part to concerns about the United States.

Last month, the United States announced plans to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism as part of a diplomatic opening between Khartoum and Washington following Bashir’s ouster.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also major players in Sudan, providing much-needed financial aid to the new government.