KHARTOUM – Sudan is not seeking economic aid from Russia in exchange for an agreement on the proposed naval logistics facility in Port Sudan, Onur Ahmad Onur, charge d’affaires of Sudan’s Embassy in Moscow, has said.
“It is not true. This news is not true. This is groundless news. The Sudanese side is not asking for any payments in connection with the military base agreement,” the diplomat said, stressing that any request for “some payments” would negatively affect relations between the two countries.
Onur said he believes an agreement on the facility will be signed in the near future, pending some “small changes.” The diplomat said these amendments are being discussed by the Russian-Sudanese commission on military cooperation.
Earlier, a source in Sudan’s military told Sputnik that Khartoum was looking to amend the 2020 agreement on the construction of a Russian Navy logistics facility in Port Sudan, and seeking economic assistance from Moscow in exchange for a five-year lease and the possibility of a long-term lease for up to 25 years.
The creation of a Russian Navy logistics facility in Port Sudan has been discussed for years. In June, Sudanese Armed Forces chief of staff Mohamed Osman al-Hussein announced a possible revision of the logistics base agreement that was signed in late 2020. Earlier this year, al-Arabiya reported that Sudan had “frozen” the base agreement. The Russian Embassy in Khartoum dismissed this reporting.
Russian-Sudanese negotiations on the creation of a naval logistics center go back to 2017, when then-President Omar al-Bashir said that he had discussed the idea with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defence Ministry Sergei Shoigu. Bashir was ousted in a military coup in April 2019, with a ‘Transitionary Military Council’ establishing a mixed civilian-military ‘Sovereignty Council’, including a civilian prime minister, in late 2019. The 39-month transitional period is presently scheduled to end in November 2022.
Russia and Sudan have enjoyed close relations for decades, both under Bashir and his successors. Last month, Moscow stressed that it “remains ready to support in every possible way reconciliation” between Sudan and South Sudan, the landlocked east African nation formed in 2011 after a decades-long civil conflict. Soon after gaining independence, South Sudan descended into a new bloody civil war, with clashes continuing to this day despite the signing of a peace agreement in 2018.
Russia presently operates about two dozen military facilities overseas, with the vast majority of them situated in countries of the former Soviet Union, many of which are Russian allies within the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The Russian naval facility at Tartus and the Khmeimim Air Base in Syria are Russia’s only major military facilities outside the former USSR.