Russia To Set Up Trade Mission In Damascus, Port In Sudan

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Russia will establish a trade mission in Syria this year, with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signing a decree to do so on November 10. “The trade representation of the Russian Federation in the Syrian Arab Republic to be established in 2020 in the city of Damascus,” the decree reads. The Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade is tasked to approve the structure and the staff list of the trade mission.

The two countries are also expected to sign an economic pact before the end of the year that is partly aimed at circumventing U.S. sanctions, Russia’s deputy prime minister Yuri Borisov said in September as he led a high-level delegation on a visit to Damascus. Russia is expecting to sign the pact on his next visit in December, coinciding with the opening of the Trade Office. This is said to include over forty new projects in the energy sector, reconstruction of a number of power stations and offshore oil extraction. The agreement, he added, would “outline a new framework for trade and economic ties between the two countries for the coming years” while providing relief from U.S. sanctions, which he said were “strangling” the Syrian people.

Russia maintains a naval maintenance site near Tartus, which is the country’s only military foothold on the Mediterranean, while Moscow has just signed a deal with Sudan for a Russian Naval Base in the Port of Sudan.

Russia has been building stronger links with African nations, as it seeks new bilateral relationships and trade deals to bolster its global geopolitical influence. The Sudan facility will give Russia’s navy a presence and maintenance post in the geopolitically awkward Red Sea and Gulf of Aden region, which carries large amounts of shipping trade between Europe and Asia. China already has a rival naval base in Djibouti while Turkey has a military base in Somalia. Under the terms of Russia’s naval base treaty, which were agreed by Moscow earlier this month, Sudan will grant Russia land for the naval “logistics centre” for a period of 25 years, with the option for decade-long extensions.

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