Russia to set up naval base in Sudan, expand influence in Africa
Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved the establishment of a major naval base in Sudan, which will improve Moscow’s ability to operate in the Indian Ocean and expand its influence in Africa.
In a decree released on Monday, Putin announced that he had approved a Russian government proposal to set up a naval logistics hub in the North African country and ordered the Russian Defense Ministry to sign an accord to go ahead with the venture.
According to a draft document related to the agreement and unveiled earlier this month, the naval facility would be able to moor no more than four ships — including nuclear-powered vessels — at the same time.
The document further said the hub would also be used for repair and resupply operations as well as a resting place for Russian naval service members.
Russia’s official TASS news agency has also predicted that the new naval base will allow the Russian Navy to better operate in the Indian Ocean by being able to fly in replacement crews for its long-range ships.
It forecast that Russia would reinforce its new African outpost with advanced air defense systems, allowing it to establish a no-fly zone for miles around.
“Our base in Sudan will be another argument for others to hear us and take heed,” said an opinion article published by TASS about the future naval base.
Meanwhile, the land for the naval facility is to be freely supplied by Sudan, and Russia will have the right to bring in any weapons, ammunition, and equipment it needs through Sudan’s airports and ports to support the new facility.
Russia maintains a similar naval facility at the port of Tartus in Syria, a country where it also operates an air base.
The future naval base, set to be constructed in the vicinity of Port Sudan, will be capable of accommodating as many as 300 military and civilian service members.
Moscow is determined to expand its involvement in Africa, a continent of 54 countries with extensive mineral wealth and potentially lucrative markets for Russian-manufactured weapons.
Putin presided over a Russia-Africa summit last year, an event aimed at boosting Russian influence in the continent, while two nuclear-capable Russian bombers landed in South Africa at the same time in a show of resolve.
Russia also seeks a military foothold in Africa along with other countries, such as the US, France, Britain, and China.
Djibouti, for instance, is home to Chinese, American, and French naval bases, while other navies often use its port.