Russia in Sudan: As the West and Russia compete for influence in Africa, the power struggle has now reached Sudan. With the growing anti-West and particularly anti-France sentiments in the Sahel region, it seems that Sudan is the West’s last hope of staying relevant in the area. The West has gradually come to terms with the fact that it is losing the battle for influence in Africa, and is now making desperate attempts to gain a foothold in Sudan by positioning itself as the country’s “savior” to prevent Russia from gaining more ground in the gold-rich African country.
Russia’s Sudan outreach makes the West nervous
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Khartoum on February 8, as part of his African tour, seeking to expand Russia’s influence. This has come at a time when the West is making desperate attempts to isolate Moscow over the war in Ukraine. During his visit, Lavrov held talks with Sudan’s acting foreign minister to bolster economic ties, especially in infrastructure. In this regard, it is likely that Russia is trying to send a signal to the West that it also has strong ties with Sudan and will protect its interests there.
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The West rushes to counter Russia’s move
The Russian Foreign Minister’s visit to Sudan to deepen ties seems to have caught the West off guard, and they are nervous. As a response to Russia’s visit, the United States has vowed to support Sudan’s transition to a civilian-led government. As per a report, the six envoys arrived in Khartoum on February 8, 2023, and met with Sudanese political leaders to demonstrate their support for the country’s ongoing political transition. However, they agreed to resume financial support to Sudan only once a civilian-led transitional government has been formed.
Sudan’s path to democratic transition has been difficult, and the country is hoping to transition to civilian rule. The junta head has also called on his opponents to reach a comprehensive final agreement, in order to pave the way for a transitional government with civilian leadership to guide the country to carry out free and fair elections by the end of the transitional period. Similarly, the leader also urged the international delegation to support the political transition and provide urgent aid to Sudan. This was the perfect opportunity for the West, which is currently facing an unprecedented credibility issue in the continent to try to salvage the situation.
Although Sudan had lost Western support after the last year’s military coup, the West is relentlessly trying to stop the African country from joining the Russian camp now that Moscow has started boosting ties with it. Therefore, if Sudan falls into the Russian camp it will be yet another blow to US’ geopolitical ambitions. Considering the scenario, only time will tell which way the wind will blow and whether Sudan will side with Russia or the West.
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