In Summary

  • African Union, Arab league and the US call for an end to fighting for continued dialogue
  • Could it be a Russia verses the West interests in the middle of the conflict?
  • Russia 2020, 2021 and 2023 military deal that could be in the center of the conflict.

Sudan crisis escalated on Saturday 15th, 2023 to an attempted coup. In different accounts, Sudan Paramilitary RSF claim they have taken over the Khartoum airport and the presidential palace. Sudan Military on counter claim they were in charge of critical sites and in control of the situation. The battle rages on as Sudan army and the paramilitaries fight for control of Khartoum and other areas.

This is a climax of a vicious power struggle within the Sudan military leadership that has so far seen 56 dead. Both sides engaging in heavy weapon fight and all claiming control of key sites. Since October 2021, the country has been under councils of generals and in the middle of the conflict are the two army chiefs: The commander-in-chief of Sudanese Armed Forces Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, leader of Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

Could it be a Russia verses the West interests in the center of the conflict?

Joint conference: Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and Sudan’s acting foreign minister, Ali al-Sadiq, at the airport in Khartoum (AFP)

Earlier this year on 9th February, 2023, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov met Sudan officials in part of Russia’s African tour to expand their influence. This is at a time when Russia is facing sanctions from the West due to Ukraine invasion. Sudan too was also cut off from billions of dollars in international financing.

The West was in support of a transitional government which was overthrown by the Sudan Military.  

Russia in their diplomatic charm while in a cold war with the West now consider the Middle East, Africa, and Asia most important Russian partners.

Russia has gone ahead to spear head the BRICS, which brings together leading emerging strong and strategic economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It aims to promote peace, security, development and cooperation. Sergey Lavrov on 27th February announced that other countries who have shown interest in joining BRICS were Turkey, Mexico, Indonesia, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and a number of other ‘African countries’.

The military deal in the middle

The head of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, and deputy head Mohamed Dagalo ‘Hemeti’ – Pic Courtesy Dabanga Sudan

In November 2020 Russia expanded their interest by signing a deal that would give Puttin a building a base capable of hosting 300 personnel and four warships on Sudan’s Red Sea coast.

In 2021 this was reversed by claims it was not ratified by the parliament and military indicated they would review the agreement.

In 2023, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov meets Sudanese officials in Khartoum. In the meeting are the two now waring military chiefs; the commander-in-chief of Sudanese Armed Forces Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, leader of Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, and acting foreign minister Ali Al-Sadiq Ali to improve and to conclude a review of the agreement to build a naval base with up to 300 Russian troops in Port Sudan, awaiting ratification from yet-to-be-formed legislative body in Sudan.

Who could be stalling ratification of the agreement between two sanctioned nations? Why is Russia very keen on military influence and expansion in the Sahel via Sudan?

The Western countries are weary of Russia expansion of its influence on Sahel border regions, while Russia is the major weapons supplier to Sudan.

Push for Dialogue and peace

The African Union, leading Arab states and the US have called for an end to the fighting and a resumption of talks aimed at restoring a civilian government. The talked failed last week which would have resulted in handing over of power.


Closer home in Eastern Africa, Kenyan President William Ruto and Salva Kiir of South Sudan have expressed their concern in statements to the newsrooms.

“I implore all all parties to address any differences through [peaceful means for the sake of the people of Sudan and the stability of the country and the region” President William Ruto.


“The republic of South Sudan that brokered the Sudan Peace Agreement, calls for immediate ceasefire and commencement of talks” President Salva Kiir

China and the Arab league have also expressed their concerns.

The Sudanese Medical Association have appealed for aid and medical supplies and called on the international communities, human rights and diplomatic organization to help stop the fight and end the conflict before it gets worse.

By Julius O. Owino MajiMaji

April 16, 2023

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