Russian involvement has been blamed for worsening Sudan’s brutal internal conflict which has seen Rapid Support Forces (RSF) battling against the Sudanese Army for control of the capital city of Khartoum, leaving hundreds dead. Russian Wagner Group mercenaries have been linked to the paramilitary RSF, which was formed from the Janjaweed militias who gained international notoriety during the Darfur genocide.
Writing in the Telegraph, retired British Army officer Richard Kremp claimed that Putin’s failed invasion of Ukraine has emboldened the Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary organization, to exploit African nations and exacerbate unrest.
Mr Kremp wrote: “Vladimir Putin, either by accident or design, has helped unleash a wave of violence that could have disastrous consequences not just for Sudan and North Africa, but the world.
“His failed invasion of Ukraine has empowered the Wagner Group, which uses that clout to plunder African nations and stir up trouble. His desperation for money since the West implemented severe sanctions has made Russian state support for such illicit actions a necessity. All this will come at a heavy price.
“Indeed, Sudan may be just the first African nation to implode under Russian influence. In the Central African Republic, Mozambique, Libya and Mali, Russian mercenaries have worked to reinforce existing conflicts, prop up despotic regimes, suppress efforts towards democracy, loot natural resources, secure strategic advantage for Moscow and drive out Western influence.
“The forces unleashed by their efforts will not be easily contained.”
The power struggle pits General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the commander of the armed forces, against General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the head of the RSF.
The former allies jointly orchestrated an October 2021 military coup that derailed Sudan’s transition to democracy.
The violence now threatens to throw the country into a wider civil conflict just as Sudanese were trying to revive the drive for a democratic, civilian government after decades of military rule.
The US, the UN and others have called for a truce. Egypt, which backs Sudan’s military, and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — which forged close ties to the RSF in recent years as it sent thousands of fighters to support their war in Yemen — have also called for both sides to stand down.
But both generals have thus far dug in, demanding the other’s surrender and ruling out negotiations.
Dagalo, whose forces grew out of the notorious Janjaweed militias in Sudan’s Darfur region, portrayed himself in a statement on Twitter on Monday as a defender of democracy and branded Burhan as the aggressor and a “radical Islamist.”
Both generals have a long history of human rights abuses and have cracked down on pro-democracy activists.
Fighting has been particularly fierce around each side’s main bases, located amid civilian areas, and at strategic government buildings.
The military on Monday claimed to have secured the main television building in Omdurman, fending off RSF fighters trying to seize the building for days. State-run Sudan TV resumed broadcasting.
The military scored a significant gain Sunday when the RSF said it abandoned its main barracks and base, in Omdurman, which the armed forces had pounded with airstrikes.
Online videos Monday purported to show the bodies of dozens of men said to be RSF fighters at the base, strewn over beds, the floor of a clinic and outside in a yard.
The authenticity of the videos could not be confirmed independently.