The agreement to build a Russian Naval station in the Red Sea, which was divulged in November 2020, has not yet been ratified by the legislative council of Sudan and it may be now renegotiated. The chief of staff of the Sudanese armed forces, Muhammad Usman al-Hussein, said that the country intends to revise the agreement on the creation of a Russian military base on the Red Sea. As per his statement on the Blue Nile TV, “We are in the process of revising an agreement signed between the former government of Sudan and Russia regarding a Russian military project on the Sudanese Red Sea coast.” The Russian Red Sea base is proposed to be a support station and not a full fledged base as per Vladimir Zheltov, the Russian Federation ambassador in Khartoum.
He said that Sudan has the opportunity to amend or change the agreement on military cooperation with Russia in the Red Sea, taking into account the country’s interests. “The agreement can be continued if we find benefits and benefits for our country,” Al-Hussein said. According to al-Hussein, the military agreement between Sudan and Russia was not approved by the legislative council during the era of the previous government headed by the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir.
Towards the end of April, the Al-Arabiya TV channel, citing a source, reported that Sudan was freezing the agreement on the creation of a Russian military base on the Red Sea, signed by the previous authorities. The report also indicates that Khartoum is also suspending any new deployment of Russian troops at the Flamingo naval base. The Russian Embassy in Khartoum denied the news.
As per the agreement, the maximum number of Russian personnel at the Naval base will not exceed 300 people. No more than four Russian ships will be able to stay there at the same time. The dock to be built is for four ships, including nuclear powered ones. The Russian complex will be located near the Sudanese Navy’s main base at Flamingo Bay and just north of Port Sudan, the country’s main coastal port. The lease is for 25 years, extendable for another decade. The naval logistics base is meant for repairs, replenishing supplies and for resting the crew members of the Russian naval ships. Sudan will hand over to Russia for free for the entire period of the agreement’s duration the territory and the real estate that comprises the coastal zone and the water area with the mooring front or the berths for the floating craft. The Sudanese side has the right to use the mooring area upon agreement with the authorized body of the Russian side. In return Sudan wanted Russian assistance in modernizing the Sudanese armed forces.
The base would help Russia to increase its influence in northeast Africa, which also means Russians will have a close proximity to vital shipping routes in the Red Sea and in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. The Russian Navy can also participate in the anti-piracy patrols off Somalia from the base, where the European Union Naval Force Atalanta (EU NAVFOR) has been operating since December 2008. The proposed base is close to the choke point Suez Canal. With bases in Syria and Sudan, Russia has an edge in the Eastern Mediterranean as it outflanks the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) control of the Turkish Straits.
In May, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that the ratification did not take place as the Sudanese parliament is not yet working.