After Mali, Russia moves into Sudan



After Mali, Russia moves into Sudan


By Tasie Theodore


In what analysts say is further evidence of its expanding geopolitical interest in Africa, Russia has presently moved to establish a naval logistic center and repair yard in Sudan.


Coming only months after the coup in Mali and the subsequent establishment of a military-civilian government that observers say is most amenable to Russian interests, the move is seen as one that further raises the bar as regards big power rivalry in Africa.


Other major contenders in the struggle for influence in Africa include the United States of America, China, Europe, France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


Underscoring the dealings involved in the arrangement, the agreement which was signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on November 6 was only made public one week later.


Among other terms, it outlines that the naval logistics center will host up to 300 naval and civilian personnel. In addition, the base is to be configured to host up to four naval vessels at a time, and these would include nuclear-powered ones.


On the Sudanese side, the government is undertaking to provide the associated port infrastructure as well as a piece of land at no cost to the Russians.


More tellingly, Russia will be allowed to transfer “any kind of military equipment or munition, equipment or material” which are required for the smooth functioning of the centre through the ports of Sudan  even as the project would be designated as coming under Russia’s jurisdiction.


In addition, the agreement is projected to last for 25 years, with an immediate option for renewal for a further 10-year period. And very significantly, it will be Russia’s first military base in Africa since the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Before now, the Kremlin had maintained a base in the Soviet era but recent moves to establish one in Djibouti had not pulled through.


It will be recalled that Moscow had hosted a Russia-Africa summit attended by more than 40 African leaders in 2019. The move was seen by analysts as part of a renewed strategic surge to attract more goodwill from within the African continent.


News of Russia’s renewed surge for influence in Africa resurged after it was revealed that both elements of the jubta that overthrow the Ibrahim Boubacar Keita administration earlier in the year and Mali’s current Acting President, retired Colonel-major Bah Ndaw are Russian-trained. Ndaw in particular had received helicopter training in Moscow in 1974 while the coup itself took place only weeks after coup leader and current Vice President, Col Assimi Goita, returned from a training session in Russia.


Cash-strapped Sudan has also recently signed a new bilateral deal with Israel that had been brokered by the Trump administration.




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