Russia plans to set up military base in Sudan

Two countries discuss creating a naval base for 300 troops near the Red Sea

Sudan is preparing to ratify an agreement for Russia to establish a 300-troop naval base in the country, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam Al Sadiq Al Mahdi met Mr Lavrov in Moscow on Monday.

“Russia started the process of ratification. As you know, the Parliament is on holiday. Therefore, the State Duma will determine a schedule for consideration of this document,” Mr Lavrov said.

The deal would allow Russia to set up a naval base with up to 300 Russian troops, and to keep up to four ships, including nuclear-powered ones, in Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

In exchange, Russia would provide Sudan with weapons and military equipment.

At a press conference in the Russian capital on Monday, Russia pledged “unwavering support” for the Sudanese government in its quest to resolve social and economic problems.

“Russia believes that sanctions [on Sudan] imposed by the UN Security Council back in 2004 need to be lifted as currently they serve no purpose,” Mr Lavrov said.

A meeting will soon be scheduled between the finance ministers of the countries to discuss the national debt Sudan owes Russia. In June the International Monetary Fund granted Sudan a $2.5 billion loan to aid debt relief.

The two also discussed a number of regional topics, including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, known as Gerd, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On the issue of Gerd, Ms Mahdi said it was, “in Sudan's interest for other countries to participate so we can ensure this construction doesn't hurt our country, our people.”

Sudan and Egypt say a decade of negotiations with Ethiopia have failed and the dam is starting a second filling of its reservoir. They say this not only violates a 2015 agreement but poses “an existential threat” to 150 million people in their downstream nations.

Sudan and Russia said a summit would be held next year to enhance Russian co-operation with African nations. The forum will follow up on the 2019 Russia-Africa summit that was held in Sochi.

Some of the issues expected on the agenda include Libya, the Central African Republic and Chad.

“We think that Sudan should be more actively involved in these processes, helping to secure the situation in these countries,” Ms Mahdi said.

Russia and Sudan also discussed the need to improve international co-operation to resolve conflicts in the Middle East, North Africa and other parts of Africa, Mr Lavrov said.

“We have exchanged opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, on the Syrian conflict, on Libya following the Berlin conference, and we have agreed to close co-operation on these and other issues,” he said.

Updated: July 12th 2021, 1:35 PM