Russia and Sudan set to finalize agreement on naval basing rights

Sudan navy

Moscow and Khartoum are set to sign an agreement on establishing a logistic centre for the Russian Navy in Sudan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a joint news conference with Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali al-Sadiq Ali.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Sudan on February 9, after his second tour in Africa this year. The top Russian diplomat met Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the de facto head of state of Sudan, his deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali al-Sadiq. Lavrov last visited the African country in 2014.

In 2019, Sudan and Russia signed an agreement, which reportedly gives the Russian Navy access to Sudanese ports. In 2020, Russia announced plans to build a naval base in Port Sudan, which would give them a significant presence in the region. Although, since announced in 2021, the agreement has not been ratified by Sudan’s parliament, and the Sudanese military intends to review the agreement to ensure that their interests and profits are taken into account.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the head of the Sovereign CouncilAbdel Fatt al-Burhan on the sidelines of the Russian-African summit in Sochi and declared his support to the political change Sudan.

In December 2020, Russia and Sudan’s current authorities agreed to station a Russian Navy sustainment centre on its Red Sea coast, but the Sudanese government said in 2021 it was not yet ready to ratify the relevant agreement with Russia. Following talks with his Sudanese counterpart, Lavrov said Khartoum would ratify the document now.

The agreement provides for use of Port Sudan by Russian warships after notification not later than 7 days before the date of entry. The agreement was not affected by the political change that took place in Sudan.

Sudan is a strategic entry points for Russian businesses on the African continent, even though the country’s close ties with the Middle East non-state actors and the political issues faced by the region are problematic for its allies.

Nevertheless, Russia has continued to provide military support for Khartoum which has translated to about 87 percent of the country’s armament, while only 8 percent are of Chinese origin, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

In November 2020, the Sudanese Navy received a training vessel from Russia as part of the standing bilateral military cooperation between Moscow and Khartoum. The Russian-Sudan military cooperation agreement will see both countries develop joint military training, engineering training, and military education. The vessel which is the Project UK-3 training boat (NATO: Petrushka Class) was built in Wisla Shipyard, Gdansk, Poland, in 1982-90 as the Orson.

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