Sudan’s ruling military concluded a review of an agreement with Russia to build a navy base on the Red Sea in the African country. Moscow met Sudan’s most recent demands, including providing more weapons and equipment.
Talks about a potential naval base began back in 2019 when the Sudanese authorities gave permission for Russian ships to call at Sudanese ports. The agreement was signed in secret, and was not announced until 2021.
In February 2022 Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, commander of the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, held talks with senior Russian officials in Moscow. Intriguingly, the negotiations weren’t even hindered by the October 2021 coup in Sudan, when the army overthrew the rule of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
The agreement stipulates that in exchange for permission to build a naval base in Port Sudan, the state will receive more weapons and military equipment from Russia. Lavrov was also expected to promise that Russia would support Sudan’s efforts to lift the UN arms embargo, although at the time of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the leverage of the Russian lobby in this regard may be low. Economic cooperation between the two countries is expected to continue and increase even more, which could prompt Russia to start gold mining in Sudan.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, on a visit to Sudan, has said the West's attempts to convince developing countries to isolate Russia are a sign that it does not believe in democracy, during his own tour that is seeking to expand Moscow's influence. pic.twitter.com/5p8ysL3MXS
— Reuters Africa (@ReutersAfrica) February 11, 2023
The agreement allows Russia to set up a naval base with up to 300 Russian troops, and to simultaneously keep up to four navy ships, including nuclear-powered ones, in the strategic Port Sudan on the Red Sea. The base would ensure the Russian navy’s presence in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean and spare its ships the need for long voyages to reach the area.
The agreement is to last for 25 years, with automatic extensions for 10-year periods if neither side objects.
The increased presence of the Russian fleet in the Red Sea and around the Mediterranean Sea is raising concerns about the security architecture in the Middle East and southern Europe.
According to the recent State Department, “Russia is violating the New START treaty by preventing the US from inspecting its nuclear arsenal.”
U.S. inspections of nuclear weapons at Russia’s Northern Fleet submarine base have not taken place for three years. Hence, the United States cannot certify that the Russian Federation is complying with the terms of the treaty.
The Borei-class submarines, of which the Northern Fleet has three, are capable of carrying 16 missiles likely to end with six warheads. However, the number of warheads on each missile can vary, as can the number of missiles on each submarine. A fully armed Borei is capable of going on a patrol with 96 nuclear warheads on board.