Russia has announced that it has entered into a pact with Sudan to create a navy base in Sudan, and this could open up possibilities of cooperation with India in the Western Indian Ocean

The Navies of India and Russia have stepped up cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region — two exercises this year in Eastern Indian Ocean Region including exercises coinciding with the Navy Day on December 4-5. The two plan to sign Mutual Logistics pact for their Navies at the next annual summit.

India has been ramping up its presence in the Western and Southern Indian Ocean through expansion of ties with Mauritius and Seychelles and other Eastern & Southern African states besides attempts to increase in Madagascar & Comoros

The draft agreement published by Russia only provides for a logistics and repair base on the Red Sea for the time being; however, the navy would be allowed to station up to 300 military staff there — enough to supply four warships, regular- and nuclear-powered.

Though it is at present a logistics support centre for Russia in Sudan, the intention is likely to be to develop a full-fledged naval base. The agreement is for 25 years, with provision for a 10-year extension by mutual consent.

Russia will build living quarters, warehouses, naval maintenance facilities and docks to berth four warships, including nuclear-powered vessels, and a Russian garrison of 300. As part of the agreement, Russia will provide anti-aircraft cover to its own base and Sudanese naval assets in Port Sudan.

The effort is obviously to restore Russian naval presence in the North African region, which was vacated after the Cold War (during which there was Soviet military presence in South Yemen and Ethiopia).

With its increased military presence in Syria since 2015, Russia has significantly upgraded its naval facility in Tartus on the eastern Mediterranean. The base in Sudan gives it a presence on the other side of the Suez Canal, with the possibility of projecting Russian maritime influence along the shipping lanes of the Red Sea and into the Indian Ocean – to which Russian naval access at present is only from its Pacific coast.

"Russia defines itself as a player right on the spot in this important region of the world," Rolf Welberts, a former German ambassador to Sudan who has also served as head of the NATO Information Office in Moscow, told leading German media outlet DW.