The Russians are trying to expand their influence in Africa. To this end, they are signing military agreements with some of the continent’s more authoritarian regimes. 

The German daily newspaper Bild citing a leaked secret German Foreign Ministry report wrote that the Russians are building military bases in six African countries. The report says that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made “Africa a top priority.” The bases are part of the Russians’ new African ambitions. 

Bild cited the report which states that “since 2015, Russia has concluded military cooperation agreements with 21 countries in Africa.” It added that there were only four prior military cooperation treaties across the continent. 

The report said that by courting some of the continent’s most dictatorial regimes, the Kremlin was “contractually assured” it would “be allowed to build military bases in six countries.” These countries are the Central African Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Sudan according to the Foreign Ministry’s leaked document.

Putin is competing with not only the West but also with China in spreading Russian influence on the huge continent (Africa is three times the size of the United States).

Sudan particularly interests Putin and Russia as it sits on the strategic Red Sea waterway. 

Back in December, the head of Sudan’s parliamentary defense committee MG Al-Hadi Adam had said regarding a Russian request to construct a port in Sudan, “The date of the requested port call is being discussed. It will be approved if the two countries make an agreement. This deal will pave the way for more agreements and greater cooperation… possibly a Russian base on the Red Sea.”

Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir had, as far back as 2017, sought Russian aid in combatting “U.S. aggression” in the country. Al-Bashir was deposed in a coup d’état. He was convicted of corruption charges late last year. In the past, Sudan had backed Iraq after it invaded Kuwait. It has been accused of harboring and providing sanctuary, logistical, and monetary assistance to several Islamic terrorist groups. Carlos the Jackal, Osama bin Laden, Abu Nidal, and others who have been labeled “terrorist leaders” by the United States have reportedly been protected in Sudan. In 1993, the U.S. designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism.