Sudan has 'no problem' allowing Russian naval base on its coastline, general says

After Moscow visit, Gen Dagalo says foreign nations can build military bases as long as they pose no threat

Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commander of Sudan's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, speaks to reporters at Khartoum airport on his return from Russia. AFP

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Russia – or any other foreign country – could create a naval base along Sudan’s Red Sea coast, said the commander of its powerful paramilitary force.

Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commander Gen Mohamed Dagalo would have "no problem" with Russia setting up a base as long as it poses no threat to the Afro-Arab nation’s national interests, he said on his return from a visit to Moscow.

The establishment of a Russian naval base in Sudan was agreed in 2017 by then-president Omar Al Bashir and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, but the agreement was never implemented.

However, Russia is known to be pressing Khartoum on the issue as part of its efforts to maintain a significant military presence in the Red Sea.

“We have 730 kilometers of coastline on the Red Sea, so we have no problem if any country bound to us by mutual interests and does not threaten our national security, whether that is Russia or any other, wants to establish a military base,” Gen Dagalo, better known by his nickname Hemedti, told reporters at Khartoum airport on Wednesday night.

He said many foreign nations already have military bases in Africa.

The decision would fall to the defence minister, he said.

It comes as the US pressures Sudan’s ruling military to allow a civilian government to lead the country’s democratic transition, derailed by a coup last year, and to halt violence against peaceful protesters demanding the generals step down.

The US, along with the World Bank and others, suspended hundreds of millions of dollars of aid in response to the October 25 coup, which was widely condemned by Sudan’s western backers.

Gen Dagalo’s visit to Moscow coincided with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which he publicly justified as a lawful act to defend its security and citizens.

The Sudanese Foreign Ministry later said his comments were taken out of context and that Khartoum supported a political resolution to the Ukraine conflict.

Sudan abstained on Wednesday when the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in support of a US-backed resolution condemning the invasion of Ukraine.

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Updated: March 03, 2022, 8:04 AM
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