Sudan delegation heads to Russia amid Ukraine crisis

The delegation, including military council’s deputy head, is visiting Moscow to advance bilateral relations.

Mohamed Dagalo, Sudanese coup general, speaking
Dagalo was part of an October 25 military takeover that plunged the country into political and economic turmoil [File: Reuters]

A delegation of senior Sudanese officials, including the deputy leader of the country’s military-led ruling council, is headed to Russia for talks on cooperation, authorities said.

Sudan has found itself increasingly isolated since an October 25 coup that has seen foreign aid cut as part of the international community’s response to the military takeover.

“Through this visit, we hope to advance relations between Sudan and Russia to broader horizons, and strengthen the existing cooperation between us in various fields,” tweeted the deputy chairman of the transitional Sovereignty Council, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

Dagalo, who is widely known as Hemeti and commands Sudan’s powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, was part of an October 25 military takeover that plunged the country into political and economic turmoil and drew wide international condemnation.

The official visit comes at a testing time for both countries. Russia is facing new Western sanctions after ordering troops into eastern Ukraine, while the United States has threatened Sudan’s military with sanctions in the wake of the coup.

The East African country, which is heavily dependent on foreign aid and investment, was largely cut off from both following the coup. Its currency has begun sliding on the black market in recent weeks.

The Sudanese delegation’s visit to Moscow fell “within the framework of exchanging views and discussing ways to develop and strengthen cooperation between Sudan and Russia”, the Sovereign Council said.

Dagalo is accompanied on the trip by the country’s finance, energy, agriculture, and mining ministers, as well as the head of the Sudanese chambers of commerce, state news agency SUNA said.

The visit is the latest in a string of diplomatic trips Dagalo has made this year, including to the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.

Facebook last year took down accounts that it said boosted Dagalo’s influence and had links to the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA).

Ongoing unrest

Sudan has been grappling with deepening unrest since the October coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the country’s de facto leader since the 2019 removal of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir.

The country has been rocked by regular anti-coup protests that have been met by a crackdown that has killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds, according to an independent group of doctors.

Russia, which is involved in Sudan’s gold sector, called for restraint after the coup but did not issue a condemnation.

It was due to send a shipment of wheat to Sudan as humanitarian aid, Sputnik News reported in January.

General al-Burhan, who visited Russia in 2019, said in December that relations with Moscow were strong and that an agreement on a Russian naval base on the country’s Red Sea coast was under discussion.

Sudan was militarily dependent on Russia for decades due to crippling sanctions imposed by Washington against al-Bashir’s government. But since his 2019 overthrow, Sudan has moved closer to the United States which removed Khartoum from its crippling blacklist in 2020.

Source: News Agencies