UNCONFIRMED Reports of Russia Abandoning Plans to Build Naval Base in Horn of Africa
February 09: According to unconfirmed reports by Sputnik News, Russia no longer considers establishing a military base in the Horn of Africa a relevant issue and is therefore not conducting negotiations to that end, Russia’s ambassador to Somalia and Djibouti, Mikhail Golovanov, told Sputnik.
The strategic geographic position of Djibouti at the isthmus between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden has prompted France, China and the United States to set up military bases in the country.
“The issue of creating a material and technical support point for Russian naval ships in Djibouti has lost its relevance for the Russian side, so there are no negotiations on opening a Russian base in the region,” Golovanov said to Sputnik.
The ambassador pointed out that the volatile security situation in the region nevertheless necessitates consistent patrolling in the region.
“The strategically important location of Djibouti requires additional measures to ensure free navigation, including combating maritime piracy and hijacking of civilian vessels.
In this regard, coast guard units are constantly patrolling territorial waters in the narrowest part of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait – 38 kilometers [About 24 miles] – through which 12 percent of the global volume of sea cargo transportation and transportation of 30 percent of hydrocarbons pass,” the diplomat said.
Golovanov also ruled out the possibility of building a military base in Somalia, where terrorism remains an acute problem.
Al-Shabab, a radical Islamist group that has close ties with the international terrorist organization al-Qaeda (banned in Russia), controls large areas of Somalia and regularly perpetrate acts of terrorism on the civilian population. It wages an armed struggle against the central government of Somalia and impedes the humanitarian activities of the UN.
CSO Alliance emphasises that reports of Russia abandoning previous plans to build a base in the Horn of Africa (and specifically Berbera Port in Somaliland) are unconfirmed at this time.