General Mohammed Otman al-Hussein says talks are under way with Russian officials “to serve Sudan’s interests.”
Sudan’s military chief has said the country is reviewing an agreement to deploy a Russian naval base on the Red Sea coast under former President Omar al-Bashir, which was ousted two years ago after nearly 30 years in power.
“This deal was signed under the previous government of National Salvation,” said General Mohammed Otman al-Hussein, chief of staff of the Armed Forces, in an interview broadcast late Tuesday evening.
He told Sudan’s Blue Nile television that “talks to review a deal that serves Sudan’s interests” were held with the visiting Russian delegation last week.
Transaction news area: At the end of last year, on the official portal of the Russian government. The deal allows Russia to set up a naval base with up to 300 Russian troops, as well as to maintain up to four naval vessels in the Red Sea port of Sudan at the same time, including with nuclear power.
Instead, Russia should provide Sudan with weapons and military equipment. The agreement must be valid for 25 years, with automatic renewals for 10 years, unless one of the parties objects.
“We are negotiating a possible review of this deal to ensure that our interests and profits are taken into account,” al-Hussein said.
For decades, Sudan has been militarily dependent on Russia for tough US sanctions against al-Bashir.
But Sudan is improving its ties with the United States after al-Bashir was ousted by the military in April 2019 following widespread protests against his rule.
The country is now ruled by a technocratic government, a council of civilian and military figures, due to the end of power in late 2023.
Last year, the United States appointed its first ambassador to Khartoum in recent decades, removing Sudan from its list of “state sponsors of terrorism.” As a result of the meltdown, Sudan has agreed to normalize diplomatic relations with US ally Israel.
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree in November approving a proposal by the Russian government to establish a maritime logistics center in Sudan.
Al-Hussein noted that the deal with the Russian base has not been submitted to the newly formed Legislative Council, which will act as a parliament during the political transition in Sudan.
The Kremlin said it had seen al-Hussein’s comments and that Moscow was in regular contact with Sudan and hoped it could resolve the situation.
A senior Russian Foreign Ministry official, Mikhail Bogdanov, has offered to hold additional talks to clarify the situation, saying Russia would be happy to clarify anything, Interfax reported.