Russia Should Seek A Naval Base In Somaliland Since Sudan Continues Giving It The Runaround

Anderew Korypko

It’s time for Russia to recalibrate its regional policy in light of the changes that have recently taken place in Sudan and Somalia.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Al-Sadiq Ali told Sputnik that while “We have no fundamental objections to the agreements reached under the previous government”, which he described as “an obligation of the state”, he “leave[s] this issue to the parliament” whose next elections have yet to be scheduled. He’s “anticipating high-level talks and a visit by Sudan’s leadership to Russia in the near future”, but this response to the question of Russia’s planned naval base there still amounts to giving it the runaround.

It was suggested as far back as summer 2021 that “Somaliland Can Be An Alternative For Russia’s Troubled Sudanese Naval Base Plans”, the insight of which is more relevant than ever after the US ominously threatened Sudan with vague “consequences” in 2022 should it go through with this. Shortly afterwards, its “deep state” war broke out in early 2023 and evolved into a full-blown civil war that continues to this day, further impeding the chances of implementing their 2020 deal.

Although Chief General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan refused to bite the American media’s bait that Russia allegedly arms his “Rapid Support Forces” rivals via now-defunct Wagner, his Foreign Minister’s roundabout response about the future of this base suggests that he remains reluctant to defy the US. This state of affairs isn’t expected to change considering that he wants to remain on that Western leader’s good side so it’s about time that Russia begins looking elsewhere to meet this military need.

The Memorandum of Understanding that Ethiopia and Somaliland signed on the first of the year, whereby Addis will recognize Hargeisa’s 1991 redeclaration of independence and give it stakes in national companies in exchange for commercial-military port rights, could form the basis of such talks. Something similar could be discussed between Russia and Somaliland, which would meet the first’s military needs while also pioneering a new connectivity corridor with fellow BRICS member Ethiopia.

Russia had hitherto not wanted to upset Somalia, which continues to claim Somaliland despite not exerting any writ over it for the past one-third of a century, but recent developments in their ties might cause Moscow to reconsider its calculations. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud slammed Russia twice while speaking at a think tank event in Italy in late January, after which a member of Somalia’s Defense Committee put an anti-Russian spin on their country’s security deal with Turkiye in late February.

These unfriendly actions occurred despite Russia sending Somalia two free shipments of wheat thus far so Moscow shouldn’t expect that continuing to abstain from establishing ties with Somaliland will lead to an improvement in Mogadishu’s behavior. Quite clearly, the American-Somalian base deal from the middle of last month whereby Washington will construct five such facilities in that country has political strings attached, namely taking the US’ side against Russia in the New Cold War.

It’s therefore time for Russia to recalibrate its regional policy in light of the changes that have recently taken place in Sudan and Somalia. Clinging to hopes that its naval base deal with the first will be implemented in the coming future and that the second’s newly unfriendly attitude towards Russia will soon improve risks wasting precious time at the expense of tapping into more promising opportunities. Somaliland could replace Russia’s planned base in Sudan and the Kremlin should explore this possibility


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