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Moscow changes sides

Russia's deal to supply arms to the SAF in exchange for a Red Sea naval base could mark a turning point in Sudan's civil war

The decision by the Sudanese army to allow a Russian naval base to be built in exchange for arms could mark a pivotal step in the civil war (AC Vol 65 No 7, Ceasefire efforts resume as Burhan's forces go on offensive).

In an interview with Russia's Sputnik agency, Mohamed Siraj, Sudan's Ambassador to Russia, confirmed that the project, a logistical support centre, has been formally agreed upon by both nations.

The agreement to establish a logistical centre for the Russian navy on the Red Sea was originally signed in 2019.

On May 25, Assistant Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan Armed Forces Yasir al Atta said that his government would approve the centre in exchange for the supply of 'vital weapons and munitions'.

He added that a military delegation would travel to Russia in the coming days to agree these details.

The Sudan Armed Forces deal with Moscow in effect shifts Russia's support to SAF leader Abdel Fattah al Burhan. The Kremlin-linked mercenary group Wagner had previously provided surface-to-air missiles to the Rapid Support Forces led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo aka 'Hemeti' (AC Vol 64 No 10, A war that hits everyone all at once & Vol 64 No 15, Hemeti's grand plan is stalemated).

The final agreement for the naval base is anticipated to be signed by al Burhan as the head of the Sovereignty Council.

Meanwhile, another Sudanese delegation led by Burhan's deputy on the Sovereignty Council, Malik Agar, including senior ministers, will go to Moscow in the coming months to discuss economic cooperation, including mining and agricultural projects.

Efforts to agree a ceasefire and open peace talks since the civil war erupted in April 2023 have been complicated by the involvement of the likes of Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in equipping the warring sides. That task will only be made more difficult by Burhan's new Russian pact.

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