Sudan’s military junta has said it had always had a “clear” stand on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, even though officials declined to disclose it to the public.
And as international pressure mounted on Khartoum, especially from its European Union partners, the deputy chairman of the Sovereign Council said Sudan had already pronounced itself on the matter on Monday.
Lt-Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (aka Hemedti), who toured Moscow last week, defended what he called “deep” Sudan-Russia relations, and revealed a series of joint cooperation agreements reached between the two countries in many fields, especially military and economic.
The Sovereign Council had earlier said it supports diplomatic solutions to resolve the crisis between Russia and Ukraine.
However, Sudan on Wednesday abstained on a vote to condemn Russian aggression by the UN General Assembly, joining 34 other countries, 17 of them in Africa, in doing so.
Hemedti, who concluded the controversial visit to Moscow on Wednesday, met with several senior Russian government officials, led by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“The meetings focused on all political, economic and issues related to security and military aspects,” said Hemedti, who also leads the feared Sudan paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
In press statements after his return from Russia, he confirmed that the visit was an opportunity to strengthen relations between the two countries. He also pointed out that they held talks on training and combating terrorism and national security issues.
The trip was “on the invitation of the government of the Russian Federation,” a dispatch had indicated last week. It also added that it “comes within the framework of exchanging visions and discussing ways to develop and strengthen aspects of cooperation between Sudan and Russia in various fields.”
In recent years, Russia has sought a geopolitical return to Africa, through Sudan, especially in the military field, and through projects such as developing nuclear power. In May 2019, the two countries signed a seven-year military cooperation agreement.
In late January 2019, amid protests that ousted former president Omar al-Bashir, the Kremlin acknowledged that Russian military ‘trainers’ had been present “for some time” alongside Sudanese government forces.
During a visit to Russia in late 2017, Bashir requested Russian President Vladimir Putin to “protect” Sudan from the United States and called for strengthening military cooperation with Moscow to re-equip its armed forces.
At the time, Sudan was still under US sanctions for state-sponsored terrorism.