Sudanese Conflict Harms Russian Military and Mining Interests

Darfur report - Page 3 Image 1

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 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, 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),” (French public service radio network), 18 April 2023.

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, (pro-government Russian publication focusing on socio-political affairs)

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,”, 10 March 2022.

Image Information:

Image: Darfur report – Page 3 Image 1
Source: Sean Woo
Attribution: CC x 2.0

India Responds to Chinese and Pakistani Naval Activities in Sri Lanka

India Navy continuity drill.

India Navy continuity drill.

“India’s move to help Sri Lanka enhance its maritime surveillance capabilities appears to be a subtle move by it to reassert its role as a net security provider for the Indian Ocean…”

The independent Indian daily newspaper Deccan Herald recently published an article, the first excerpted below, regarding India’s response to Chinese and Pakistani naval operations at Sri Lankan ports. According to the article, India is concerned that it risks losing its preeminent position as the primary security provider for Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean region at large. The article also emphasizes the importance of the timing of India’s deal to supply Sri Lanka with Dornier 228 maritime aircraft as a means of reasserting its geopolitical standing in the region. The provision of the Dornier 228 to Sri Lanka occurred shortly after Sri Lanka granted permission to the Strategic Support Force of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, which tracks satellites and intercontinental ballistic missiles, to visit Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port. In addition, Sri Lanka allowed the Pakistani Navy frigate PNS Taimur to refuel at Colombo Port when returning home from naval exercises in Cambodia and Malaysia. In a recent statement published by the Chinese Communist Party People’s Daily, as shown in the second article, a China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson noted that Chinese support to port infrastructure in Sri Lanka and other developing nations is simply a sign of Chinese cooperation between nations, and therefore India’s concerns are unwarranted. In the third excerpted article, from the Indian publication The Hindu, the author argues that the Dornier 228 will revamp Sri Lanka’s capabilities to contribute more to the security of the Indian Ocean region, which, in turn, supports India’s regional interests. At the same time, the new capabilities will reaffirm Sri Lanka’s role as a member of the Colombo Security Conclave, whose other three members are India, the Maldives and Mauritius. The article nevertheless acknowledged that India’s increased maritime security interest in Sri Lanka is being driven by its apprehension over Sri Lanka’s cooperation with China in maritime naval affairs.


“Sri Lanka allows Pakistani warship, Chinese recon vessel to dock in its ports, to get maritime patrol aircraft from India,” (independent daily newspaper targeting youth readership), 14 August 2022.

Even as China’s recon ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’ is back on course towards the Hambantota Port of Sri Lanka, India is set to gift the island nation a Dornier 228 maritime patrol aircraft soon, subtly reasserting its role as the net security provider to the island…. New Delhi will replace the used aircraft with a newly-built one two years later and will then discuss with Colombo the modalities for handing over another aircraft to the Sri Lankan Navy or the Coast Guard.

India’s move to help Sri Lanka enhance its maritime surveillance capabilities appears to be a subtle move by it to reassert its role as a net security provider for the Indian Ocean, notwithstanding increasing forays by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

Beijing had on August 8 dismissed New Delhi’s security concerns as “senseless” and tacitly asked it to desist from “disturbing normal exchanges and cooperation” between China and Sri Lanka…. India also pointed out that it was its sovereign right to express its security concerns over the arrival of China’s ship with military capabilities in Sri Lanka.

India’s move to help Sri Lanka enhance its maritime surveillance capabilities appears to be a subtle move by it to reassert its role as a net security provider for the Indian Ocean, notwithstanding increasing forays by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy and Pakistani Navy in the region.

“毛宁:中国将为发展中国家做更多实事、好事 (Mao Ning: China will do more practical and good deeds for developing countries),” (largest Chinese newspaper owned by the Chinese Communist Party), 8 October 2022.

The infrastructure of these countries includes ports, bridges, and power stations, in addition to mosques, parliament buildings, stadiums, and libraries. They are all beautiful business items made in China, and they are also golden images of China’s cooperation with developing countries.

“India hands over Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft to Sri Lanka Navy,” (widely circulated Indian daily newspaper), 15 August 2022.

Sri Lanka Air Force announced that the Indian Air force was gifting it a Dornier 228 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, while noting another aircraft would be donated within two years…. Sri Lanka is a member of the ‘Colombo Security Conclave’ that began as a trilateral initiate involving India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and later included Mauritius, for maritime cooperation in the region.

Image Information:

Image: India Navy continuity drill
Attribution: www.indiannavy.nic, CC BY 2.0

China Advancing Cooperation With Pakistan’s Navy in the Indian Ocean

“To counter India, it is important for Pakistan to improve its navy by acquiring advanced equipment from Beijing and enhancing its capabilities through these drills…”

The accompanying three excerpted articles highlight different perceptions of the growing China-Pakistan strategic partnership in the Indian Ocean.  In July, China and Pakistan held their second “Sea Guardians” joint naval exercise off the coast of Shanghai.  The exercise was meant in part to test Pakistan’s new Type 054A/P warship—the country’s most advanced Chinese-built frigate.  The Pakistani navy commissioned its first Type 054A/P, the PNS Tughril, in January and the second one, PNS Taimur, in June.  Pakistan has a contract to receive two more at an unspecified date.  According to popular Indian daily The Hindu, the “Sea Guardians” exercises are paving the way for closer security cooperation between China and Pakistan in the Indian Ocean.  Chinese and Pakistani experts point out the need to safeguard strategic sea lanes used to transport energy and goods.  They also comment on Pakistan’s need “to ensure seaward defense, maintain peace, stability and balance of power in the Indian Ocean region.”  The Hong Kong-based semi-independent South China Morning Post attributes China’s growing role in the Indian Ocean to growing U.S.-India joint maritime security cooperation.  China’s goal is to “counter U.S. efforts to advance its Indo-Pacific strategy, which emphasizes India’s continued rise and leadership in the region.”  Meanwhile, Paris-based, online media source Naval News sees the buildup of Pakistan’s naval capability more generally as an effort to counter India.  According to the article, the Pakistani navy is in the process of renewing its fleet.  In addition to the four Chinese frigates, they will be commissioning new corvettes from Turkey and a multi-purpose offshore patrol vessel from the Netherlands.  Pakistan is also modernizing its submarine fleet.  In 2016, Pakistan entered a $5 billion deal with China to acquire eight Chinese Yuan-class Type 041 diesel submarines by 2028.  According to the article, the goal is “to shift the force balance with its archrival India.”


Ananth Krishnan, “China, Pakistan Begin War Games Off Shanghai,” The Hindu (Indian daily newspaper), 10 July 2022.

China and Pakistan on Sunday began four-day naval exercises off the coast of Shanghai, involving Pakistan’s most advanced China-built frigate and paving the way for closer security cooperation between the two countries in the Indian Ocean.

Wei Dongxu, a Chinese military expert, told the paper the two countries “need to jointly demonstrate their capabilities in safeguarding strategic sea lanes that transport energy and goods.”

The first Type 054A, Tughril, was commissioned last year.  Pakistan’s envoy to China Moil Ul Haque then told Chinese media that the commissioning of the frigate “in the context of the overall security paradigm of the region” would “strengthen Pakistan Navy’s capabilities to respond to maritime challenges to ensure seaward defence, maintain peace, stability and balance of power in the Indian Ocean region.”

Source: Amber Wang, “China and Pakistan Launch Naval Drills Aimed at Countering US Indo-Pacific Strategy,” South China Morning Post (Hong Kong based semi-independent English language daily), 11 July 2022.

This is the second time China and Pakistan have held a “Sea Guardians” joint maritime exercise. The first was held in January 2020 in the northern Arabian Sea.

Lin Minwang, a professor of South Asian studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the exercise would help China to expand its engagement in the Indian Ocean and counter US efforts to advance its Indo-Pacific strategy, which emphasizes India’s “continued rise” and leadership in the region.

“The strengthening of maritime security between India and the United States has led to China’s greater engagement in the Indian Ocean.”

The Indian Ocean is a vital trading hub, and 80 per cent of China’s oil imports come through the Malacca Strait, the ocean’s busiest “choke point”.

To counter India, it is important for Pakistan to improve its navy by acquiring advanced equipment from Beijing and enhancing its capabilities through these drills, according to Lin.

Source: Tayfun Ozberk,“Pakistan Navy Commissions 2nd Type 054 A/P Frigate ‘PNS Taimur,’” Naval News (Paris based naval focused news outlet), 24 June 2022.

The Pakistan Navy is currently undertaking an important renewal of its fleet, with the procurement of several modern platforms: In addition to these frigates from China, Pakistan will also commission new corvettes from Turkey and OPV from the Netherlands.  It is also modernizing its submarine force.  In 2016, Pakistan agreed to pay China $5 billion for the acquisition of eight Chinese Yuan-class type-041 diesel submarines by 2028 in order to shift the force balance with its archrival India.

Iranian Navy Joins Indian Naval Exercises

Iran’s “Dana” Destroyer, which participated in the IONS 2022 Exercises off Goa, India.

Iran’s “Dana” Destroyer, which participated in the IONS 2022 Exercises off Goa, India.

“The presence of the Navy in open waters … shows the authority of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the maritime arena.”

The excerpted article from Iranian media source Fars News Agency reflects on the increasing operations of the Iranian Navy in the Indian Ocean basin.  The article describes a combined naval exercise called the IONS Maritime Exercise 2022 (IMEX 2022) near the southern Indian city of Goa.  The exercise was sponsored by the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), which consists of 24 Indian Ocean littoral states, including Australia and France (due to its possession of the Indian Ocean island of Mayotte).  The participation of the Iranian destroyer Dena and maritime reconnaissance aircraft and helicopters in the exercise—even when coupled with India’s and Iran’s regular exchange of naval port calls—does not mean that India and Iran are developing a special relationship.  At a minimum, Iranian participation 1,400 miles away from Hormuz demonstrates the Iranian Navy’s growing confidence operating in blue water.  The exercises, which excluded China, also reflect a growing recognition in India that competition with China in the Indian Ocean mandates interoperability amongst Middle Eastern, South Asian, and East African states.  Notably, IONS member Pakistan, a traditional adversary of India as well as a client of China, did not participate in the Goa exercises.


“Agaz-e Razmayesh Marakab-e Darya-ye IONS 2022 ba Hazor Navshakan Tamam Irani (A Domestically-Manufactured Iranian Destroyer Joins the IONS 2022 Combined Naval Exercises),” Fars News Agency (media outlet close to Iran’s defense and security apparatus), 29 March 2022.

After holding briefings, workshops and visiting the fleets of the two sides, this morning the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Combined Naval Exercise (IMEX 22) began in Goa with the participation of Islamic Republic of Iran Navy, India, Bangladesh and the Indian Ocean countries and the participation of 14 IONS members. 

Captain Farhad Fattahi, commander of the Naval Expeditionary Fleet, said that the Islamic Republic of Iran currently chairs the IONS Maritime Security Committee, and said, “IMEX 2022 exercise will be held in two phases, coastal and naval. The coastal phase includes includes briefings, training workshops and visits to the fleets of the two sides. In the naval phase, specialized naval operations including formulation exercises, guard officer maneuvers, medical aid exchange operations, rescue operations, tests and assessments will be carried out…” 

Emphasizing that today the Navy has become a decisive force in various fields, he stated, “The presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy in open waters and its participation in multilateral exercises with countries around the world, shows the authority of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the maritime arena and [our] effective interaction with other countries in securing maritime prosperity and world peace.

Image Information:

Image: Iran’s “Dana” Destroyer, which participated in the IONS 2022 Exercises off Goa, India
Source: Islamic Republic News Agency