By Finian Cunningham
November 17, 2020 “Information Clearing House” – “Sputnik” – The news that Russia is to build a naval base adjacent to the Red Sea underscores the geopolitical background to the recent escalation of conflict in Ethiopia.
The Horn of Africa with its intersection of trade routes is the subject of intense geopolitical contest. China and more recently Russia are offering economic partnership for development, while the Western powers, primarily the US, view the interplay with the usual zero-sum mentality not willing to tolerate any other “interloper”.
Ethiopia sits at the center of this geopolitical chess game in the Horn of Africa, resonating with the old scramble for Africa among European colonial powers in the late 19th century.
Russian President Vladimir Putin this week gave approval for construction of a naval hub in Port Sudan in agreement with the government in Khartoum. The new facility will extend Russia’s military reach in the strategically important Red Sea – a vital shipping route linking the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean.
The move is part of a wider push by Russia to develop trade and commercial links with Africa. A landmark summit hosted in Moscow at the end of last year projected new partnerships with Africa’s 54 nations.