It emerged that news about the freezing of the construction of the Russian military base in Sudan was fake. As a result, many people found out from it that the Russian Defense Ministry was building a base in Africa. Why does Russia need military bases in such seemingly unexpected places?
Military writer Yevgeny Norin shares his opinion why the Defense Ministry needs bases abroad
The purpose of facilities of this kind is not to plant the flag and show the world Russia’s presence there. First of all, any power operation is about logistics. The notorious bases of NATO and the United States are useful to their owners primarily because they allow them to instantly "project power" almost anywhere.
There is almost never a powerful contingent at a military base abroad, but it is not needed. The point is that there is always an airfield capable of receiving aircraft, a berth for ships, stocks of fuel, ammunition, spare parts, and repair facilities. To offload a ship directly to the beach is extremely difficult. So is to put a warplane in a bare field. However, a prepared position is a gateway through which at least an aviation regiment, a military flotilla or a motorized rifle battalion can be relocated. Most importantly, everyone in the region knows that such a possibility exists. No one has to actually send a battalion to warn a regional dictator or a field commander of local terrorists that moving into this territory is risky.
A global world is not a safe place. Yes, all corners of our planet are connected by trade routes, universities and global business. Russian oil and gas companies are working in Iraq. Rosatom is building a nuclear power plant in Bangladesh, and merchant ships with the Russian crews can be spotted in Liverpool or Macasar. However, this means that threats to Russia’s interests and to the lives of Russian residents might arise anywhere. The story of May 2010 when local pirates attacked the Moscow University tanker half a thousand miles off the coast of Somalia is still well-remembered. How was the tragedy prevented? There was a Russian warship stone-shot away (by sea standards) from the tanker. Russia brought Marshal Shaposhnikov, an Udaloy-class destroyer of the Russian Navy, and threw the crooks overboard. However, it was luck that a Russian frigate was sailing close enough to the tanker. But no one needs lucky coincidences. A working system is required.
Russia actually has very few military bases abroad. Their presence is not primarily a question of prestige and not an answer to the question of whether Russia is a great power or not. It is a question of whether or not the country can ensure its own security. From this point of view Sudan is the very right place to have a naval base. The Red Sea is the main “canal” for global shipping. Shipping always attract pirates and all sorts of criminality, from the international slave trade to illegal arms shipments.
It is also an opportunity to enter local politics with a package of "national security turnkey." In recent years, Russia is well used to making offers of this kind to the countries of the third world from Syria to Central Africa. Where there is national security, there are contracts. Oil, energy, tungsten, gold, etc... This is all profit for the Russian national businesses, jobs, big money and big politics. And, of course, those who don't mind riding into paradise on Russia’s backs. That's not a surprise.
Warships, marines, missiles, and violence. Why can't this money be used for something peaceful? Is a war likely to start again? The answer is sad: there is always a war. The experience of many countries bordering Russia, from Serbia to Sri Lanka, shows the same experience. If one wants peace, one should get a big gun and be ready to use it. This is a very sad and angry picture of peace, and it has only one merit: it is realistic. Russia is building military bases on the other side of the world not because the Kremlin likes Rudyard Kipling, and not in order to draw attention to itself.
Chances are it will make the world a safer place.