Russia Planning Major Naval Base in Sudan
Source: Military Watch Magazine
New Facility to Service Nuclear Assets
The Russian Defence Ministry is planning to build a naval base on Sudan’s east coast, which would provide the Navy with its second overseas facility after the one on Syria’s Tartus following the closure of bases in Cuba and Vietnam. The facility was referred to as a “logistical support centre” where “repairs and resupply operations and rest for crew members” can take place, with a draft agreement already having been signed. The facility would have a capacity for 300 military and civilian personnel and four ships, and would be able to accommodate nuclear vessels, making it significantly larger than the Syrian facility at least before its wartime expansion after 2016. It remains uncertain what kind of warships the facility is deigned to accommodate, and whether heavier warships such as battlecruisers will also be accommodated. The base will be located on the northern outskirts of Port Sudan, and Russia will also gain the right to transport “weapons, ammunition and equipment” for the base through Sudanese ports and airports.
Sudan’s military establishment has maintained close defence ties with Russia, despite a Western-backed coup in the country in April 2019 ousting the longtime President Omar Al Bashir who was closely aligned with Moscow. Under Al Bashir’s rule Sudan and Russia were discussing the possibility of a naval base from at least late 2017, alongside the potential sale of advanced Su-30SM and Su-35 fighters to the Sudanese Air Force. Al Bashir had personally appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a visit to Moscow in 2017 to help support Sudan against ongoing Western efforts to partition the country through subversion. Sudan has faced serious political and economic crises since the coup, with the country’s political future highly uncertain. The draft agreement for the naval facility stipulates that its establishment “meets the goals of maintaining peace and stability in the region, is defensive and is not aimed against other countries,” with Sudanese forces maintaining the right to use the mooring area. The deal will stand for 25 years after its signing, and could represent a game changer for the balance of power in the Red Sea as Russia establishes a sizeable military presence in the area. Such a development could also give more clout to Sudan’s military establishment, which is thought to be seeking to contain the empowerment of pro-Western elements in the country
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