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The leadership of the Russian Federation, including President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu met with the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, in Sochi in November of last year. Also included in the talks was the man known as ‘Putin’s Chef’, Evgeny Prigozhin, who is well-known for acquiring lucrative government contracts from the Kremlin. The purpose of the meeting was to cement a Russian presence in the African country of Sudan, whose leadership is under sanction for mass murder in Darfur, reports Russian news outlet, The Bell. Prigozhin’s company also catered the talks.
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The points discussed in the meeting included establishing a Russian naval base in Sudan to counter ‘aggressive U.S. actions’, said Bashir.
In addition it seems mercenaries from Prigozhin’s Wagner Group are already in-country literally ‘digging for gold’. Results of the meeting included signing concession agreements for the mining of gold on several plots between the Ministry of Minerals for the Republic of the Sudan and an obscure company called M Invest Ltd.
Russia has been adding to its gold reserves aggressively in possible preparation for a future financial crisis. The country is currently buying most of the gold produced in Russia.
“A subsidiary of this company operating under the name “Meroe Gold” has already started to explore deposits in Sudan. Both sources claim that M Invest represents Prigozhin’s interests. Prospecting is taking place at five plots with the involvement of about 50 geologists and other specialists. The volume of production that the company expects is unclear. As of 2016, Sudan was the third largest producer of gold in Africa, with a production volume of more than 90 tons per year. According to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, production in Sudan exceeded 100 tons last year,” writes The Bell.
“Wagner Group mercenaries are now training Sudanese government military units including at least one person who works for another private military company. One person indicated that there are over one hundred mercenaries deployed there,” added The Bell.
“We can say that Sudan may be Russia’s key to Africa,” said Bashir at the November meeting with Putin.
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Russian advisors are also active in Madagascar, South Africa and Kenya. Employees of the Wagner Group are also training the armed forces of the Central African Republic (CAR). This spring, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially declared that 170 civilian instructors “will be sent to CAR to train CAR servicemen.”
It remains to be seen how these Russian nationals and their efforts will conflict with Chinese efforts in Africa. What is for sure is that both nations are moving forward to harvest minerals and strategic advantage on the Dark Continent.