Date: 11 June 2021

Russia’s Problem in Sudan: No Chance for Port Putin?

Russia will need to wait for Sudan’s final decision on a naval base on the Red Sea. Close ties to the country’s former dictator Omar Basher and then with Sudanese army generals are not enough to put Moscow’s plans into practice. Also, the United States has joined the game; as Khartoum said it would renegotiate the deal, this means it seeks to get as much as possible from both Moscow and Washington. Yet the prospect of a Russian military base on the Red Sea is becoming more and more distant.


Russia will reconsider the decision of Sudanese state authorities on the deal to construct a Russian naval base in the African country, the Kremlin and the Russian foreign ministry informed. Moscow will do so following the Sudanese army chief of staff’s remarks on renegotiating the naval base agreement. According to Sudanese officials, they seek to change the provisions of the deal so that it brings more benefits to Khartoum. Arab media reported in April 2021 that Sudan had suspended the deal before it was ratified. Possibly it is just an excuse to delay, or even break, the naval base agreement with Moscow. There is no shortage of opinion in Russia that Washington was pushing on Sudan in this respect. In December 2020 the United States removed Sudan from its blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism after Sudan agreed to normalize ties with Israel. Top Sudanese army officials do not hide that the recent U.S. decision to lift sanctions on Sudan paved the way for possible military cooperation between the two states while denying it had anything to do with the Russian naval base. Washington indeed voiced concern on the issue. Commander for the U.S. Africa Command General Stephen Townsend once labeled the projected Russian facility his concern alongside the Russian military presence in Libya and the Chinese military base in Djibouti. In late 2020 the Russian government signed an agreement with Sudan to establish a naval base at the city of Port Sudan on the Red Sea, for a period of 25 years. The concession with Khartoum envisages the creation of a Russian logistics center that will host up to 300 personnel and four naval units. In addition to the deal, Russia and Sudan inked a protocol to supply Russian-made weapons and equipment to the African country. According to the command of the Sudanese army, the current review of the Russian naval base deal is legal because it had not been approved by Sudan’s legislative council, the body that ratifies international agreements, under the previous administration.

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