A team consisting of members within the Russian Ministry of Defense have visited Sudan to begin work related to the latter’s plan to set up a naval base for its Navy.
"A reconnaissance commission that worked there left, clarified the technical capabilities and the required volume of auxiliary buildings and structures," Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov, who oversees property management and quartering of troops, told Interfax on Tuesday.
"Now we will prepare a report, prepare the necessary justifications for calculating the cost and, in accordance with the established procedure, we will make a decision on the start of construction," the deputy minister said.
A formal agreement to establish a military logistics center for the Russian Navy in the Red Sea City of Port Sudan was signed in December. The nuclear submarines logistics hub will be used to station Russian vessels to allow it to ferry weapons in and out of the African nation.
As draft deal published by the government last month said the Navy will station up to four warships and up to 300 service members in the Sudanese port. On November 11, Russia’s Meduza reported sighting four vessels resembling warships at the location.
Russia will also be able to import and export weapons, ammunition and supplies for the warships, duty-free and exempt from scrutiny. In return, Sudan will receive free assistance in search-and-rescue operations and support in anti-sabotage efforts from Russia.
In May 2019, the two countries signed a seven-year military cooperation deal that gave Russian Navy access to Sudanese ports. Sudan’s Armed Forces are said to be 60% equipped with military hardware supplied by either the Soviet Union or Russia.
Germany’s Bild newspaper wrote in August citing a leaked secret German Foreign Ministry document that the Russians are building military bases in six African countries - Sudan, Central African Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Madagascar and Mozambique.
Russia has emerged as the biggest supplier of weapons to Africa and accounts for half of the region’s arms market pie. Between 2015 to 2019, Africa has imported 49% of its military equipment from Russia, which is nearly twice the volume of that purchased from its next two suppliers- the United States (14%) and China (13%).