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After the "Syrian Express" — "Sudanese Express"
Material posted: Publication date: 14-01-2018
According to the command of the Naval fleet, the crews of 70 warships and support vessels of Russia the new year holidays met in the long March. This fact — like the bright garland on the main tree of the country. Because for a long time such did not happen. Is that in the Soviet times.

But seventy ships, now performing a variety of tasks away from their bases, special attention, I think, should pay some. Namely, the Oceanographic research vessel "Admiral Vladimir" and Corvette "Savvy". First in mid-December came from Kronstadt on the restock in Cyprus on the way to the Red sea and the Indian ocean. And "Savvy" held the English channel and part of the squadron returned home to Baltiysk. Astern he also has and the Mediterranean and the Red sea.

What about the red sea offer and reflect. Then suddenly, in recent months, such attention of our fleet to these waters? Of course, not because the new crowd of Russian tourists here-here again will flood in the Egyptian Sharm al-Sheikh and the rest are supposed to be fully protected. Ensuring a safe vacation in the beach chairs and flip-flops on his feet is a concern anyone, but definitely not Navy. And if the Corvette and you can still argue in this case, the court of Oceanographic definitely are not built to protect beaches.

References to the need for a relentless fight against Somali pirates today is somehow not convincing. A few years ago, the African shepherds, immediately turned-corsairs, really has become was a serious problem for the world community. So serious that in 2009, Moscow to the amazement of the whole world were sent into the Red sea to catch the cunning black filibusters even heavy nuclear missile cruiser "Peter the Great". Just more in the time we have no one in this campaign to equip.

Meanwhile, only from 2008 to 2012, Somali pirates hijacked 170 ships from many countries with 3400 crew members. Of the captured crew of 25 sailors bandits killed. 37 sailors died of starvation or committed suicide. But since then too much has changed. Already in 2013 have happened any attack by Somali pirates on merchant ships. And by 2016 the total frequency of attacks of corsairs in comparison with 2012 has decreased by 90 percent.

Not that one, "Peter the Great" with all your reactors and missiles caught up with the universal fear in all of Somalia. It soon became clear that he and the warships of many other countries, are engaged in regular patrolling troubled latitudes, have created almost insurmountable obstacles for the impunity of sea robbery. At the end of 2008 under the European Union flag in the Red sea was deployed to the international anti-terrorist operation the eight fleets of the European countries under the name of Atalanta. The Russian Navy ships in "Atalanta" though not involved in the Red sea appeared sporadically, but the feasible contribution to the solution of problems is also introduced. And much of the Somali piracy began to wane.

Then why would we again drive into the Red sea from the Baltic to the first, "Smart", and then "Admiral Vladimir"? Moreover, in contrast to the "Savvy" on the "Admiral Vladimir" absolutely no weapons. And he himself can become a victim of the invaders, than to save someone from a similar affliction.

All, in my opinion, falls into place if we remember the political calendar of President Vladimir Putin in recent months. The visit to his Sochi residence at the end of November 2017 , the year of Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir. Visit, I must say, is largely unexpected, as accused by the International criminal court (ICC) in numerous war crimes in the Darfur province of Sudan President's arrest is clearly afraid and seldom leave their country. But in Sochi, he landed safely. Moscow has not ratified the Rome Statute and is therefore not obliged to comply with the orders of the ICC. And another important detail: in Sochi, the distinguished guest, single-handedly managing the Sudan since 1989, not just arrived. Putin specifically sent for al-Bashir in Khartoum the Russian plane. It turns out that the negotiations was very important for the Kremlin.

About their details, little is known. But about the main thing in hot pursuit was announced, it seems all the news of the world: to guarantee the protection from the aggression of the United States, al-Bashir invited Putin and the Russian defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to open in Sudan a Russian military base. Was named and specific area for this — the main gate of the country in the Red sea — Port Sudan.

Commentators in our country views then dispersed. Common was the argument that the Red sea is, of course, developing into one of the most strategically important regions of the world, because through it are not only the main transport of oil and oil products from the Persian Gulf to Europe. More intense exchange of goods between Europe, Russia and Asia. And many of these routes are increasingly routed through the Suez canal, Red sea, Bab-El - Mandeb, the Indian and Pacific oceans.

The desire to establish this route for many countries was simply irresistible after a few years ago, China unveiled its most important foreign policy initiative of "One belt and one road". The essence of innovation is to combine the project "Economic belt silk road" and "Maritime silk road of the 21st century." According to official data of China "One belt and one road" covers much of Eurasia, connecting developing countries, including "new economy" of the developed countries. Estimated economic scale — 21 trillion dollars.

Until recently, the major developed countries trade route to the Red sea from the Indian ocean was controlled only by the USA (base at camp Lemonnier, up to 4 thousand soldiers and officers), France (3 thousand, there are also a few German and Spanish contingents), Britain and Italy. All these countries have long got its own military bases near Bab-El-Mandeb — the tiny Djibouti. Moreover, only Americans pay the host country for 70 million dollars annually. And with the procurement of water and food for personnel — up to $ 100 million.

However, in recent years the demand for facilities in that area took downright speculative in nature. An agreement with the Djiboutian authorities in January 2017 signed Saudi Arabia. There rushed and Japanese. They have already started building their own military facility, which is in Tokyo, however, the military base is not known. But what does it change, actually?

Last summer despite protests from Washington and China officially opened in Djibouti, its first naval base outside the country. While her relatively small staff, but the building is designed to accommodate in the future up to 2 thousand soldiers. In exchange for land rental Beijing invited the owners for a fantastic investment for a tiny state the sum of $ 4 billion.

As it became known, in 2012 the Russian military is also almost completely in the same row. The leadership of Djibouti, who, it seems, liked this a profitable business, and suggested that Moscow near by the Americans to open a private military facility. According to the newspaper "Kommersant", Russia initially wanted to lease a piece of land near the international airport. However stingy the owners were willing to fork here just the patch 5 hectares, which is not enough for any purpose. Then it was on a small platform on the sea coast, where he planned to build the ship berths, warehouses, workshops etc in Syrian Tartus. Only the initial investment in the equipment of a new paragraph maneuverable basing the Russian Navy would cost the Russian budget of $ 1 billion. Plus — annual payments to the owners for rent.

It is unknown what would it ended. But in 2014, came the Ukrainian crisis. Washington put pressure on the Djibouti authorities: Russian Bab-El-Mandeb Strait should not be. And Djibouti (or dibucaine?) dutifully caved.

But apparently the Kremlin is the desire to be their on someone else's wedding, left after 2014. So when backed into a political corner, the Sudanese President invited Russia to open a military base at least in his country, for honorary guest was immediately sent a special plane from Moscow.

The Sudan is, of course, not Djibouti. From the entrance to the Red sea from the Indian ocean it significantly further. But closer to the Suez. And given the radii of application of modern missiles and combat aircraft to Bab-El-Mandeb Strait is not so far away.

Why is this on the talks between Putin and Shoigu al-Bashir came about Port Sudan? Apparently, because it is today the only and the main output of this country in the Red sea. South of it there is, however, perhaps a more suitable place for a naval base — a small island in the Suakin area of about 5 square kilometers. It is located on the Western shore of the red sea in the middle of a wide Bay with a width of more than 2 kilometers. Connected with the mainland by a narrow Causeway that is able to facilitate the protection and defense of the perimeter of the island.

There is, however, another subtlety. To go from Suakin to the open sea need to pass a long, wide channel. On the one hand, it is certainly a disadvantage for any military, because during the passage of the canal, the ships and boats are very constrained in maneuvering. And therefore vulnerable to fire from both banks. On the other hand, is the geographical position of Suakin is an excellent protection of the base from hypothetical storms.

For centuries the island belonged to the Ottoman Turkey, was the main Maritime gateway of West Africa. Its importance as a trading harbour lost after 1922, when he built the Port Sudan. Since then, the medieval port fell into decay.

Only Suakin we even dream of now late. Just a month ago, in December of 2017, in Sudan raided the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Visited Suakin island, former possessions of his country. And signed with al-Bashir on the agreement on the lease of Suakin island for 99 years. Officially — to restore historic sites and to develop on an island surrounded by beautiful coral reefs, scuba. But taken away by Erdogan from Sudan document, as reported by the media in this country, there is a significant point about building on the banks of Suakin island berths and workshops for the repair of Turkish warships. So in any case, we're here late.

However, the public is unknown what all agreed Putin, Shoigu and al-Bashir in Sochi relative to Port Sudan. And agreed, if at all? It remains only to observe what is already happening. And while the following occurs.

In the first half of November 2017, less than two weeks before the sensational visit of al-Bashir in Sochi, when the preliminary negotiations between Moscow and Khartoum is already definitely carried out, the Corvette Baltic fleet "Smart" suddenly left a detachment of ships, which came to the Mediterranean sea (except for the "Smart" in the squad included the Corvette "Boykiy", rescue tug and the average sea tanker "Cola"). And unknown went on a mission to the Suez canal and then into the Red sea.

Note, however, that before any ship of the project 23800 never got that far. First a relatively "young" corvettes of this type with the Baltic sea have made a pair of outputs max to the Bay of Biscay, Ireland and in the North Atlantic. To wrap up, even in the Mediterranean, and not that in the Red sea alone — that they have not yet been charged. And time is still in November ordered "Savvy" — so there was a good reason.

The Ministry of defence only vaguely reported that "Smart" will be held all through the Red sea and out to the Strait of Aden to carry out "tasks". But to go out in the Strait of Aden, the ship had to pass by the Port Sudan. It is unknown whether this was a coincidence? But just note as a fact.

And two weeks after the Sochi talks, December 15, 2017, from the pier in Kronstadt dumps Oceanographic research ship of the Russian Navy "Admiral Vladimir". Officially to participate in an international expedition under the auspices of the International Commission of UNESCO in the waters of the red sea and the Indian ocean. The ship is designed to monitor trends and research in the field of chemical hydrology, marine biological observation, marine meteorology, upper-air monitoring, observing excitement. As announced "on the route of transition of the crew examines a newly discovered distinctive depth and navigational hazards, will be characteristics of the areas and gather information to update maps, guides and manuals".

Needless to say that the "Admiral Vladimir" does not pass Port Sudan. And yet — on Board in the sea out in the ocean unit of special forces of Marines of the Baltic fleet. Officially — for the protection of the vessel. But if it was only to help UNESCO, — who is at least six months seconded to such a long journey Marines?

Although if special attention "Admiral Vladimirskiy" will turn the waters of Port Sudan and its environs, then much clearer. And with the agreements with Putin, al-Bashar, too.

From the files of "SP"

Our country has already had a naval base in the Red sea — Ethiopian Dahlak archipelago. Its construction was started in 1977. According to the testimony of those who had to serve there, the island was a "flat as a pancake, sandy surface in some places "elevated" dunes and stunted groves of date palms".

The point of logistics (e & p) was equipped at the Dahlak in 1978 and was intended to repair Soviet surface ships and submarines (including nuclear) 8th operational squadron, carried on combat duty in the Indian ocean. Since I rattled the Somali-Ethiopian war, guarding the e & p minesweepers, gun boats, Marines with heavy weapons (tanks, Armored personnel carriers, ZSU-23−4 "Shilka") and combat swimmers of the black sea fleet. Clashes with the enemy were regular.

In the early 90-ies of the missile and artillery shelling of the e & p and convoys achieving it become a particularly dangerous character. 6 February 1991, the high command of the Navy of the USSR ordered to "withdraw all forces of the Soviet Navy from the island Nokra archipelago Dahlak from the blow of the separatists". On the same day from the flagpole of the e & p was lowered the national flag of the USSR. The property, which could not be evacuated, became the property of the Ethiopian side.


Tags: Syria , Africa

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