Russia – U.S. confrontation in Sudan on military presence in the Red Sea

Sudanese authorities have temporarily suspended an agreement with Russia to establish a naval base in the Red Sea, indicating the ongoing confrontation between Moscow and Washington in the African country. 

According to Arab news and local Sudanese reports, Sudan also halted any new deployment of the Russian military in Port-Sudan on the Red Sea. The former commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Vladimir Komoedov, in an interview with Interfax, suggested that Sudan made such a decision under U.S. pressure.

Indeed, after Sudan and Russia signed an agreement on creating a material-technical support facility (punkt material’no-tekhnicheskogo Obezpechenya, or PMTO) of the Russian Navy in the Red Sea, U.S. diplomats paid several official visits to the African country. The Russian agreement with Sudan shown the Kremlin’s resumption of naval operations in the Indian Ocean.

Why this matters? Because currently, Russia has only one naval base abroad located in the Syrian port of Tartus. Sudan might have represented a strategic point on the Red Sea for the Kremlin to pursue its naval and maritime strategy and contrast the United States (and Chinese) presence in the Indian Ocean and the African continent. The recent U.S. diplomats’ visit to Sudan has underlined Washington’s will to counter Moscow’s strategy in the country and the Russian military presence in Africa, considering the rise of Russian private military companies (PMCs) in the regional conflicts and battleground. Indeed, the Russian PMCs are currently active in Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), Madagascar, Mozambique, and Libya.