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Sunday, 16 April 2017

Al Bashir's Visit to Russia: Optimism over Moscow’s Success in Upgrading Sudan’s Relations with the West

Khartoum -  President Omer Al Bashir visit  to Russia during the coming period gains a big importance on bilateral, regional and international levels. The visit also has added importance concerning joint political, economic, military and security files.
Observers of the relations between Khartoum and Moscow see that these relations have been witnessing continuous progress for decades, especially in the bilateral fields and coordination of stances towards regional and international issues and for rendering them as distinguished ties. Moscow has continued to stand beside Khartoum, particularly vis-a-vis the issues that have been sponsored by some hostile circles against Sudan.
Sudanese-Russian relations have witnessed great developments in the last period, especially in the economic field, where the two countries signed in Khartoum 14 cooperation agreements and memoranda of understanding, covering economic and investment fields. Some of the signed agreements between the two countries are related to investment in the fields of oil, minerals and banking.
It seems that the openness of Russia towards Africa will be through Sudan. It is the same gate used by China for the continent. Sudan constitutes a gateway for the West and Eastern Europe to the African continent.
A glance to the history of the Sudanese-Russian relations shows that there were strong ties that had been linking the former Soviet Union and Sudan since the 1960s. These ties witnessed some ups and downs, but they gradually returned to the path of full normalization by a military agreement. This is according to a statement issued by the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs some years ago following the signing by two the countries to a military agreement in Moscow by the then minister of defense Gen. Bakri Hassan Salih (the current First Vice-President) and his Russian counterpart.
Also Sudan had maintained close military relations with the former Soviet Union. However, those ties witnessed some deterioration after the failure of the military coup in 1971. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed to a statement it issued at an earlier time that Sudanese-Russian relations had witness marked development in the various fields and that Russia had inherited the former Soviet Union.
The report of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out that there are many agreements and memoranda of understanding and protocols that cover a number of fields of cooperation between the two countries, referring in particular to a memo of understanding in the field of mining. There was also an agreement on the encouragement and protection of investment and another between the diplomatic centre in Sudan and the Russian diplomatic academy. They also include a protocol on academic cooperation besides an agreement on information exchange between the security organs in the two countries. The joint cooperation agreements also include a draft agreement on cooperation between Khartoum State and Saint Petersburg’s ophthalmology administration, agreement on gold and other minerals mining besides an agreement with the Ministry of Roads and Bridges for the construction of the continental road linking Sudan and Ethiopia.
Concerning the promotion of the partnership between Sudan and Russia, the two countries have agreed on increasing the volume of trade exchanged between them and upgrading their economic partnership in various fields. Presidential Assistant Dr. Awad Al-Jaz discussed, with the Russian Envoy during his participation in the conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference in Khartoum recently, the bilateral agreements signed between the two countries in the economic field and entering into a new economic partnership.
Experts in international relations see that Sudan’s relations with Russia gain big importance, especially considering Russia’s political, economic and military weight in the international arena and that consolidating the two countries ties will have positive effects on Sudan in various fields.
Ahmed Malik, an expert in international cooperation, indicated in an earlier statement that the time is opportune now for creating a Sudanese-Russian partnership in various fields, which concentrates on economics, politics, security and international cooperation as Russia is one of the poplars of the world. Malik further noted that Russia is making serious endeavors to establish strong ties with Sudan and that Sudan should strive to create strong ties with Russia for realizing common interests, especially in the fields where Moscow have expertise such as minerals, oil, transport and agriculture besides the military industry.
Malik stressed the importance of upgrading the relations between Khartoum and Moscow to the level of political partnership in all fields and focusing on benefitting from the Russian expertise and technology for effecting the agricultural and industrial development in Sudan.
The economic expert, Dr. Mohamed Al-Nair, indicates that Russia has given great concern in the last period to economic cooperation with Sudan. Pointing to the increasing rates of investment by Russia in the field of mining in the country and that Moscow is adopting the approach of non-intervention in internal affairs, like China, pointing out that cooperation with Russia can provide advanced potentials to Sudan to enable it utilize its natural resources.
In conclusion, one can say the forthcoming visit by President Al Bashir to Russia can achieve a major breakthrough in the file of international relations and that overcoming the economic blockade that has been imposed by the United States on Sudan through the previous years. This is a matter that will avail Sudan with new technologies and will help the country to utilize its rich natural resources. Many observers rely on Moscow for improving Sudan’s relations with the West, especially the European Union and U.S.