Russia to set up strategic naval base in Sudan
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin approved a draft agreement on the creation of a naval logistics base in the North African country, according to the Russian government’s legal information web portal on Wednesday.
The draft agreement between Russia and Sudan had gone through multiple channels and was approved by the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor’s General Office and the Investigative Committee of Russia.
There was preliminary agreement on the part of Sudan also.
According to a draft of the agreement, the facility "meets the goals of maintaining peace and stability in the region, is defensive and is not aimed against other countries".
Repairs and supplies for Russian naval ships will be available at the site, however, warships may also dock there.
"The Sudanese side has the right to use the mooring area upon agreement with the authorised body of the Russian side," the document reads.
Up to four warships and 300 crew members could be stationed at the naval logistics base, including "naval ships with the nuclear propulsion system on condition of observing nuclear and environmental safety norms", the agreement adds.
The naval base would give Russia a firmer foothold in northeast Africa giving the navy control of crucial shipping routes in the Red Sea.
In addition to the naval base, the bilateral agreement confirms that Russia will deliver weapons and military equipment to Sudan for free, in exchange for air defences at the Russian naval base.
Sudan is one of the biggest recipients of Russian arms.
Ending UN sanctions on Sudan
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the US would seek to end UN sanctions on Sudan, enacted due to the conflict in Darfur, as the new government makes peace.
The promise is another sign that the United States is eager to reward Sudan after it agreed to recognise Israel - a decision made at the urging of President Donald Trump's administration as it moved to delist Khartoum from a list of "state sponsors of terrorism".
It is unclear how Russia's expansion into Sudan will impact its relations with the US.
Pompeo said that the one-year-old civilian-backed government had made "substantial improvements" in human rights including in Darfur, the parched western region where the former dictatorship carried out a scorched-earth military campaign.
"The United States is committed to working with the Sudanese government and our international partners to identify circumstances that could result in lifting sanctions related to the Darfur conflict at the earliest opportunity," Pompeo said in a statement.
"We have already begun consultations at the UN with this objective in mind."
Sudan's new government a month ago signed a landmark agreement with rebels that have been active in Darfur, as well as the southern states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
In 2005, the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo, a ban on travel, and a freeze on assets of anyone found to have inhibited peace efforts in Darfur.
The then US administration of George W. Bush had supported international action against Sudan's attrocities in West Darfur, which it characterised as genocide against the region's mostly Black people.