Russian President Vladimir Putin approved on Nov. 16 the government’s plans to create a naval facility in Sudan to service the needs of the Russian navy in the region and serve as a logistics center. The Russian Defense Ministry signed the respective agreement on the facility construction with Khartoum. Given the character of Russian authorities’ decision-making, most experts believe the decision concerning the establishment of the facility had been taken long before its formal announcement. The question, then, is the pace of the facility’s construction, something that will largely depend on the Kremlin’s priorities moving forward. And there are factors that can prompt one to be at least somewhat doubtful as to whether Russia is really all that serious about expanding its footprint in the region.
The first factor in this context is Russia’s constrained economic, military and logistical capabilities. According to the former chief of staff of the Russian navy, retired Adm. Viktor Kravchenko, the most primitive facility in the Red Sea will take three to four months to be completed.