Within weeks after becoming the first US ambassador to Sudan in 25 years, Ambassador John Godfrey has warned Khartoum against allowing Russia to establish a naval base on its Red Sea coast, threatening with “consequences”.
Emphasizing that his mission was to thaw ties between Khartoum and Washington and that he wished to see a civilian government running the country, the ambassador spoke of the Russian influence in Sudan.
In an interview for the Sudanese daily Al-Tayar on Tuesday, Godfrey stressed that although all countries have a sovereign right to decide which other countries to partner with, these choices also have consequences and the deal with Russia would harm Sudan’s interests.
Using the euphemism for the US and its allies, Godfrey warned Khartoum that allowing Moscow set up a Red Sea base would lead to further isolation of Sudan at a time when it wants to become closer to the international community.
Godfrey warned against the rekindling of the 2017 agreement the government in Khartoum had signed with Russia to establish a Russian navy base for nuclear-powered ships in Port Sudan, a major seaport city and the arrival point of 90% of Sudan’s maritime trade.
Under the deal, Russia would lease the site for 25 years with automatic 10-year extensions unless one of the parties objected and a presence there would let Moscow keep an eye on the nearby Bab el-Mandeb strait.
Russia inked the draft deal in exchange for military cooperation with Khartoum during the government of former President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who was ousted from power in 2019.
Back in November 2020, Moscow moved to reactivate the agreement but after the US allegedly offered it a multimillion-dollar aid package, the Sudanese government sought to renegotiate it in July 2021.