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Media: Russia, Sudan close to signing 25-year agreement on military cooperation, port access

by Nate Ostiller June 4, 2024 3:27 PM 2 min read
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) meets with Sudan's acting foreign minister, Ali al-Sadiq, following his arrival in Khartoum late on Feb. 8, 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)
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Russia and Sudan are reportedly close to signing a 25-year deal entailing mutual military cooperation and access for Russia to Port Sudan on the Red Sea, the Qatari media outlet Al-Sharq reported on June 4.

Sudan has been embroiled in a civil war since April 2023 between the military government of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), under General Hemedti.

Russia and Ukraine have played a complex role in the fighting, with the Kremlin-backed Wagner mercenary group previously backing the RSF, while Ukrainian commandos reportedly arrived in Sudan in August 2023 to support the government.

In a sign of the shifting tides, Malik Agar, the deputy head of Sudan's military-backed government, arrived in Russia on June 3, reportedly with plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to Bloomberg, Agar will discuss receiving Russian arms and military support in exchange for providing port access in the Red Sea.

Sources shared more details of the alleged plan with Al-Sharq, saying that Russia would be able to create a small naval base on the Red Sea with Sudan's permission, which would allow no more than 300 personnel and four ships to be stationed there. In turn, Russia would provide the Sudanese government with an undisclosed amount of military hardware.

At the same time, analysts have said that it is unlikely that Russia will unequivocally back either side in Sudan's war, so the prospects of Russia's support decisively tipping the scale in either direction are low.

"(Russians) recognize that in the end, neither side will be able to completely destroy the other, the Russians would want to be able to maintain close ties with whoever is in power when this is all over," said Samuel Ramani, an Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), in comments to the New Arab media outlet.

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