Darfur report – Page 3 Image 1.
“The war that two Sudanese generals are currently waging for the seizure of power is not necessarily good news for Vladimir Putin, whose interests are very important there.”
On 18 April, the French-language website francetvinfo.frfrancetvinfo.fr published the excerpted article, which covers a French think-tank’s perspectives on Russian interests in Sudan amid that country’s conflict between two warring factions loyal to two different generals. The article notes that, according to the deputy director of the Franco-Russian Observatory think-tank, the conflict harms Russia’s interests in Sudan because Sudan has long allied with Russia in return for supplies of Russian grain and arms.[i] However, the instability and uncertain result of the war in Sudan could put the alliance in jeopardy, while undermining Russian military and economic objectives in the country. According to the article, beyond Sudan’s diplomatic support to Russia, Russia also engages in mining in Sudan, such as for gold, which helps Russia mitigate the impact of international sanctions. In addition, Russia has aspirations to use Port Sudan as a naval base.[ii] According to the second excerpted Russian-language article from gazeta.ru, the port would be significant for Russian geopolitical power projection by extending Russian influence to the Red Sea and, more broadly, the Indian Ocean. As a result, Russia’s concerns about these negative outcomes of the war in Sudan explains why Russia has been vocal in calling for ceasefire between the warring parties in Sudan.
“Pourquoi la guerre des généraux “n’est pas un scénario très favorable aux intérêts russes”, selon un expert (Why the War of the Generals ‘is Not a Very Favorable Situation for Russian Interests”, according to an expert),” francetvinfo.fr (French public service radio network), 18 April 2023. https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/afrique/soudan/soudan-pourquoi-la-guerre-des-generaux-n-est-pas-un-scenario-tres-favorable-aux-interets-russes-selon-un-expert_5777636.html
By consistently opposing UN resolutions condemning Russia and its war on Ukraine, Sudan has proven itself a staunch ally of Moscow. This is no surprise when one knows that Russia is its main supplier of arms and grain. And the war that two Sudanese generals are currently waging to seize power is not necessarily good news for Vladimir Putin, whose interests are very important there.
Sudan has become one of the main entry points for Russian influence on the African continent, explains Igor Delanoë, deputy director of the Franco-Russian Observatory in Moscow: “Russian companies in the field of extraction, mining, and more have actually been working there for years… It gives a window for Russia to the heart of the African continent”.
A Russian naval base project in Port Sudan in the Red Sea is even on the table. But the current crisis is not helping Moscow’s affairs… Hence Russia is making repeated calls for ceasefires to end the Sudanese generals’ war as soon as possible.
“Зачем России база на Красном море? (Why a Russian Base on the Red Sea?),” 14 February 2023, gazeta.ru (pro-government Russian publication focusing on socio-political affairs) https://www.gazeta.ru/army/2023/02/14/16251997.shtml
The diplomats of modern Russia should proceed exclusively from long-term national interests. Russia repeatedly tried to gain a foothold in the Mediterranean in both the 19th and 20th centuries. In the recent past, aspirations to create naval bases in the Indian Ocean did not end in success either.There is hope that in the 21st century the country will finally establish itself both in the Mediterranean and in the Indian Ocean, as well as in other critical points of the world oceans that are important from the geopolitical and geostrategic points of view.
[i] After the first Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia in October 2019, Moscow began to show growing importance to the continent. However, Russia developed particularly close cooperation with Sudan, which raised hopes in Moscow that it had acquired a foothold on the continent to access other countries of the continent, such as being able to increase its influence politically and economically in the Central African Republic. Even when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was removed from power by the Sudanese military in 2019, Moscow, which had supported al-Bashir, was still able to maintain close ties with Sudan. See: Sergey Kostelyanets, “Russia-Sudan Relations in the Early 21st Century: A Lost Opportunity or the Foundation for a New Beginning?” Asia and Africa Today 9 (2019): 56-62.
[ii] Sudanese General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (a.k.a. Hemedti) visited Russia for one week just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The reasons for the meeting remain unclear, but Russia reportedly smuggled hundreds of tons of illegal gold from Sudan as part of efforts to protect itself from expected international sanctions over the war in Ukraine. More broadly, attempting to mitigate the impact of international sanctions is an important feature of Russia’s policy in Africa, including in Sudan as well as in Mali, Burkina Faso, and the Central African Republic. Since the military’s overthrow of the civilian-led transitional government in 2021, Sudan had also been suffering an economic crisis, which was at least partly a result of the West halting financial aid to Sudan. This brought Russian and Sudan closer together ahead of the Russian war in Ukraine. Hamdi Abdel Rahman, “Uncovering the reasons behind Sudan’s Hemedti visit to Moscow amid the war in Ukraine,” futureuae.com, 10 March 2022. https://futureuae.com/ar-AE/Mainpage/Item/7191/a-silovik-as-the-best-choice-uncovering-the-reasons-behind-sudans-hemedti-visit-to-moscow-amid-the-war-in-uk
Image: Darfur report – Page 3 Image 1
Source: Sean Woo https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Darfur_report_-_Page_3_Image_1.jpg
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