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November 23, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 9051

Russian Military Expert Sivkov: New Red Sea Base In Sudan Allows Russia To 'Influence The Course Of The Political Process' In The Indian Ocean, The Red Sea, The Persian Gulf And In Northeast Africa

November 23, 2020
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 9051

A draft 25-year-agreement, pending President Vladimir Putin's signature has been signed by Sudan and Russia allowing for the creation of a Russian naval base in Port Sudan. Officially it will be termed a logistic center but Russia will be able to rotate 4 ships from its navy including nuclear powered and missile carrying vessels [1] This will be Russia's first base in Africa since the closure of the Russian base in Ethiopia in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russian commentators weighed in on the logic behind the agreement. The explanations varied from anti-piracy, strategic interests, to a desire to outfox Erdogan's Turkey that had previously negotiated with Sudan on the establishment of a Turkish facility.

A survey of reactions to the announced agreement follows below:


Port Sudan (Source: Nopiracy.sd)


Port Sudan on the Red Sea (Source: Nopiracy.sd)

Protection Of Commercial Interests

Ilya Kramnik, an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) explained the rationale in commercial terms. First, it is a logical follow up to an 2018 agreement to create an oil refinery in Port Sudan. “Naturally, one of the tasks of our base will be to protect this important facility... Additionally, it is the fight against terrorists and piracy, the fight against black trafficking in the Red Sea (from drug trafficking to the slave trade). Finally, it is simply an important new base for the navy on the way from the Far East and back. "[2]

Kramnik, in another interview saw the base as part of Russia's hydrocarbon strategy:" Russia, as a major player in the hydrocarbon market, and having its own projects in Sudan, is interested in controlling as many points that are important for this market as possible, and Port Sudan is one of them. "[3]


Ilya Kramnik (Source: News.ru)

Sudan Expert Seregichev: Russia Is Establishing A Geopolitical Presence In The Key To Africa

Professor Sergei Seregichev claims that Russia and Sudan have traditionally good ties and Sudan voted with Russia against the UN resolution condemning Russia's annexation of Crimea. It is therefore a favorable point to establish a presence ahead of others. " in geopolitical terms, the opening of such a point is a claim that Sudan - the key to Black Africa - is officially becoming our ally. We can say we are putting our flag there, ahead of both the United States and China. "

According to Seregichev, Sudan was also a winner in this agreement as it had acquired a great power protector. "“Due to its weakness, this country, which has been under US sanctions for more than 20 years, has to constantly consider the risks, albeit minimal ones, of an American military operation. And the opening of the base is proof for Sudan that they are friends with a great power that will not abandon them. It is for good reason that back in 2011 the Sudanese asked me if Russia could defend Sudan the way it defended Syria"[4]


Sergey Seregichev (Source: Interaffairs.ru)

Preempting Turkey

Seregichev also speculates that a major factor in the decision was the interest displayed by Turkey in deploying bases in Sudan. This view is shared by military expert Vladimir Litovkin: " Sudan has already agreed with Turkey to build the same logistics base on Suakin Island. This was before the coup [in Sudan that ousted Omar Bashir]. But then relations between Khartoum and Ankara soured, as the sponsors of the coup were Egypt and the UAE, which are clear geopolitical rivals of Turkey and are trying to squeeze it out of Sudan. Therefore, for now, this issue has been suspended, which means that Russia has a chance to get here first."[5]

Retired Russian Naval Commander Sivkov: Russia Will Sit Astride A Nerve Point

Another military expert Konstantin Sivkov emphasized the geopolitical importance of the new base: " Russia is a capitalist state. The condition for the development of successful capitalism is the expansion of influence. This is a key and important element. Sudan has a port in the Red Sea - a very important strategic element. There, next to Egypt, on the opposite side of the Red Sea - Saudi Arabia. This is quite a nerve point in the global geopolitical process. The appearance of our base there is very important."

According to Sivkov, the base will allow Russia to "influence the course of the political process" in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and in Northeast Africa.[6]"


Konstantin Sivkov (Source: Zvezdaweekly.ru)

 

[1] Aif.ru, November 14, 2020.

[2] Aif.ru, November 14, 2020.

[3] Kommersant.ru, November 13, 2020.

[4] Kommersant.ru, November 13, 2020.

[5] Rambler.ru, November 15, 2020.

[6] Newdaynews.ru, November 13, 2020.

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