14 May 2023

The Indian Ocean: Moscow’s new naval priority

Dr. Stephen Blank

It might seem incredible – given the losses Moscow has incurred in its aggression against Ukraine, including at least 18 ships, and the well-known problems afflicting the Russian ship-building industry – that Moscow has designated projecting permanent presence and power in the Indian Ocean as a priority.[1] And it has done just that in its most recent naval doctrine of 2022. Although one can postulate plausible strategic motives for this priority (discussed below), it seems the most important driver for making this ocean a priority is the obsession with projecting power globally. Characteristically, the Putin regime has frequently postulated excessively ambitious goals despite constrained resources and restrictions resulting from the sanctions imposed upon it. In this context, and because of the Russian tradition as expressed by Catherine the Great – the most successful empire builder of the Tsars – that she had no way to defend her frontiers but to expand them, we can explain the practical consequences of this thinking in the following manner: The priority of the Indian Ocean presumably is not just to project Russia as a great global power capable of displaying its might globally, but also, in line with this Catherinian logic, to protect its ships in the Mediterranean and around its hoped-for bases in the Horn of Africa and/or the Red Sea. As scholar Andrej Kreutz points out:

Putin’s Russia is determined to have access to the warm seas and the world’s oceans, including the Indian Ocean. The southern trajectory of its policy is thus a strategic necessity, which is increased by the growing American presence in Transcaucasia and Central Asia and the socio-political upheaval in the region.[2]

Therefore, the new submarines, frigates, and corvettes Russia has built and is building may be designed primarily for littoral and near-sea operations, but they are also being used for power projection and global strike. And their new missile capabilities – the dual-use Kalibr, Tsirkon and Onyx missiles – have a serious global intermediate and long-range strike capability.[3] Indeed, the Onyx missile also violates the INF treaty with its range of well over 500 km.[4] Finally Russia is also modifying an existing cruise missile design to extend its range to 4500 km (approximately 3000 miles). This is the Kalibr-M cruise missile, which is now under research, but is apparently intended to have a very long-distance precision strike, with deep explosive or nuclear capability. This cruise missile is expected to go into service with the Russian Navy, first on frigates and then on submarines, where it can then strike land-based as well as maritime targets.[5] The threats to U.S. and allied warships, based either in the Eastern Mediterranean or the Indian Ocean’s western reaches, from which they could hitherto safely fire on Russia or Russian clients in the Middle East and Africa, are obvious. As one source has stated:

British officials have already voiced concern about the threat that Russian hypersonic weapons could pose to their carrier. Hypersonic missiles are virtually unstoppable […]. With no method of protecting themselves against missiles like the Zircon the carrier would have to stay out of range, hundreds of miles out at sea. Its planes would be useless and the whole basis of a carrier task force would be redundant.[6]

Moreover, the navy and government have reaffirmed their global aspirations. Russia’s 2017 Naval Doctrine states that:

Military-naval activity represents the state’s wholly directed activity toward the formation and support by military means of auspicious conditions in the world ocean for the persistent development of the Russian Federation and realization of the fundamental priorities of its national security.[7]

This thinking is reaffirmed in Russia’s 2022 Maritime Doctrine.[8] Thus, deployments in the Indian Ocean will allegedly allow Russia to deter American or Western missile strikes upon its territory. In addition, Indian Ocean deployments will supposedly give Moscow leverage over the enormous and rapidly growing trade in that Ocean.[9] Among Moscow’s priorities in the Indian Ocean, as listed in 2022 Maritime Doctrine, are: (1) development of strategic partnership and naval cooperation with the Republic of India, as well as expanding cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Iraq, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and other states in the region; (2) pursuing a course to transform the region into a zone of peace and stability, cultivating relations with the states in the region to ensure the development of trade, economic, military, technological, and cultural tires, and development of tourism;  (3) expansion of Russian shipping in the region; (4) maintaining and supporting the naval presence of the Russian Federation in the Arabian Gulf using logistics support centers in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, and using infrastructure of the states in the region to support the naval activities of the Russian Federation; (5) participation in the effort of providing security and safety for operation of maritime transportation in the region, including combating piracy; and (6) conducting marine scientific research to maintain and strengthen positions of the Russian Federation in the region.[10] These objectives, it must be said, are aspirational rather than real, and will become even harder to reach due to the impact of sanctions. So, it remains unclear just how Russia will realize its ambitions. Nevertheless, it still seeks bases in this Ocean.

On his recent trips to Africa, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed port access for Russian ships in Angola and Eritrea, betraying a desire for bases in both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.[11] On these trips, he also visited Sudan, seeking legislative ratification of a 2018 agreement with Khartoum, which granted it a naval base on the Red Sea.[12] Whereas the quest for port access – intending some form of regular, if not permanent naval deployment in Angola in the South Atlantic Ocean – is new, the quest for bases in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea dates back to Leonid Brezhnev’s doctrine, the apogee of Soviet (Russian) power projection.

Undoubtedly, we can expect Russia to invest a great deal in its relationship with India, especially as the U.S. is now trying to displace Russia’s standing in India as its primary defense partner, e.g. by launching a major defense and emerging technologies initiative.[13] Meanwhile, however, the naval doctrine is merely giving official sanction to a policy of naval power projection that dates back to Brezhnev fifty years ago. When Russia began to recover from the tumultuous transition from Soviet rule to Putinism, it reasserted its claim to a permanent naval presence and bases in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean. Thus, subsequent Russian attempts to obtain bases here display a long-standing strategic continuity.[14]

In October 2008, the head of Russia’s Federation Council, Sergei Mironov, visited Yemen and expressed support for the future construction of a base on its Red Sea coast. However, the instability that followed the overthrow of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012 derailed this plan and Russia redirected its focus towards constructing a facility in the Horn of Africa.[15]   But it also began to cast its eyes toward the Indian Ocean – seeking bases there and in the Seychelles – even though few observers (then or now) considered Russia an active player in the Indian Ocean.[16] Russia’s 2015 Maritime Doctrine lists the Indian Ocean as a priority area, but Russia’s goals there, beyond being acknowledged as a great power, remain unclear.[17] Likewise, Russia has long, but unsuccessfully, sought a permanent base in Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay.[18]  Russia’s 2020 attempt to acquire a base at Port Sudan, which appears to have now been revived, exemplifies its quest for bases to validate its global great power status and ambitions.[19] That base had fallen through due to internal rivalries between the military and the domestic opposition buttressed by U.S  diplomatic intervention there.[20]

In other cases, we simply do not know why Russia has yet to obtain naval and air bases. But an informed guess might be the unwillingness of African and Asian countries to surrender any of their sovereignty, no matter how much they might value Russian economic-political-military help. We only know from Sudan what arrangements Russia has sought, but those requests were serious and perhaps unsettling to Khartoum. Specifically, Moscow sought a base hosting 300 troops and up to four navy ships, including nuclear powered ships. In exchange, this 25-year agreement was to provide Sudan with arms and other military equipment, with the possibility to automatically extend the agreement for a further ten years if both sides agreed.[21] While claims that Russia intended to establish a nuclear logistics hub might have been overdrawn, the agreement apparently allowed Russia to move weapons in and out of this base, along with ammunition and supplies for the ships, on a duty-free basis and without scrutiny, while Sudan would receive assistance in search and rescue operations and anti-sabotage efforts.[22] And the fact that the agreement provided for the berthing of nuclear powered ships suggests that it might ultimately be intended, at least by Moscow, to become a nuclear if not general logistics hub for its submarines. While this new base was ostensibly aimed at “maintaining peace and stability in the region,” it also would be “used to carry out repairs, replenish supplies and as a place of rest for Russian navy forces.”[23] This might have constituted more than Sudan felt it could tolerate.

Russia’s long-term quest for bases

Clearly, this quest has enjoyed official sanction for many years. On February 26, 2014, as Russian forces were invading Crimea, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced progress in talks with eight governments to establish a global network of airbases in order to extend the reach of Russia’s long-range maritime and strategic aviation assets, and thus increase Russia’s global military presence.[24] Shoigu said: “We are working actively with the Seychelles, Singapore, Algeria, Cyprus, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and even in some other countries. We are in talks and close to a result.”[25] He cited Russia’s need for refueling bases near the equator, stating that “it is imperative that [Russia’s] navy has the opportunities for replenishment.” While many scoffed at this supposedly misplaced and excessively grandiose ambition, given subsequent developments, there can be little doubt that Shoigu laid down a marker that the Russian navy and government have steadily sought to realize. Moreover, the coincidence of these remarks with the annexation of Crimea strongly points to the linkage between seizing control of the Black Sea and those objectives regarding air and/or naval bases abroad. Subsequent activity confirms the rising importance to Russia of the Indian Ocean.

In 2021, for example, Russia conducted naval exercises with Iran and Pakistan as part of the multilateral Aman-21 exercises and was set to establish a permanent naval replenishment facility in the region.[26] Throughout this period, the Russian navy also made regular port calls at Indian Ocean ports along with its exercises with South Africa and Iran, and engaged in strenuous efforts to secure its base in Sudan.[27] These regular port calls plus an active diplomacy display the seriousness of Russia’s intentions.[28]

Thus, naval cooperation in Africa did not, and will not, only extend to Sudan as stated in the 2022 Maritime Doctrine. Ongoing trends, such as the recent Russo-Iranian naval exercises, ostensibly to support maritime trade in the Indian Ocean, confirm this assessment.[29] So, while Eritrea and Somaliland have previously offered Moscow facilities, e.g. logistics centers, if not bases, on their coasts, Moscow has relentlessly “played the field.”[30]  Since 2016, Moscow has also negotiated free entry of its ships to ports in Sudan, Eritrea, Egypt, Libya, and Mozambique, testifying to its persistent interests in lodgments in the Horn of Africa, and throughout Africa.[31] Meanwhile, a strong internal rivalry among factions in Sudan, and a parallel external U.S.-Russian struggle, appears to have derailed for now Moscow’s long-standing efforts to obtain a naval base at Port Sudan.[32] But, in fact, Moscow is seeking bases throughout Africa, from the Red Sea to the Cape.  In 2014, Lavrov admitted that Russia was seeking a naval and/or air base in Alexandria, just like the Soviets had.[33]

Lavrov’s remarks came in a lengthy interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper. He was asked not only about the naval base but also the possibility of Egypt buying weapons from Russia. “The naval base is certain, and I say it loudly,” he replied. “We want to have a presence in the Mediterranean because it is important for Russia to understand what is happening there and to enhance our position.”[34]

This frank admission of Moscow’s geostrategic motives shows what animates much of this multi-dimensional strategy of power projection and the desire to establish an acknowledged great power presence throughout the world’s key regions and oceans. As Andrei Kortunov, Director of the Russian International Affairs Council, has noted: “Russia’s geostrategic interests reflect the idea of the country’s return to the world stage as a great power.”[35] In other words, the idea precedes the interests and drives their formation as policy goals. Similarly, Retired admiral and former naval chief of staff Viktor Kravchenko, had told Interfax that because the Red Sea is a tense region, Russia must have a base there, where it can conduct R&R, adding that this would of course raise Russia’s naval profile there.[36] Kravchenko’s logic falters unless we understand that his opinion is representative of a wide range of opinions that are animated by the quest for recognition as a great global power.

This recognition animates a great deal of Putin’s policy as he himself demonstrated in his Navy Day address of 2021, during which he boasted about Russia’s presence in all the world oceans.[37]  We see the same logic at work in Moscow’s renewed quest for naval bases. Indeed, these policies are continuing today. For example, Russia and China conducted three-way naval exercises with South Africa off the latter’s coast near Mozambique on February 17-24, 2023.[38] It has now become a habit for these two navies to conduct exercises with third parties in the Indian Ocean, not only with South Africa but also with Iran (in 2019).[39] They then conducted such exercises twice with Iran in 2022, one just before the war began with Ukraine and another in the fall.[40] The exercises with Iran clearly reflect the increasing alignment between Moscow and Tehran, but also extend what this author believes to be the alliance with China, which manifests itself through joint naval, land, and air exercises targeting Japan and South Korea. It would be no small matter if we were to see more advanced forms of naval or other military cooperation with China in the Indian Ocean, an issue that not only triggers considerable concern in Washington but also genuine alarm in New Delhi.[41] Such cooperation would dramatically affect security perspectives throughout the Indian Ocean and fundamentally transform Asian security.

However, this is not the only area that could be thus affected. Both China and Russia maintain a major and growing presence across Africa. Consequently, any sign of their bilateral cooperation, whether military or in some other domain, would have comparable effects throughout Africa. This is due to the fact that “while Russian moves have little chance of competing effectively against Chinese initiatives, they have the potential to complement them.”[42] Indeed, in some cases, China and Russia have supported the same factions in intra-African political struggles, e.g. Sudan, even though substantive bilateral cooperation in Africa, especially regarding security issues, has yet to appear.[43] Meanwhile, Russia overtly continues to seek port access and naval bases across Africa.

During his recent visits to Angola and Eritrea, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov openly discussed port access and naval bases, indicating an expansion of Moscow’s vision to include the South Atlantic for the first time.[44] As an indication of this desire, Lavrov’s talks with Eritrea’s Foreign Minister took place in the port city of Massawa, not the capital, Asmara. Furthermore, he announced Russia’s readiness to support Eritrea’s defense needs.[45] Although framed in a business context, he stated: “We will have to conduct an in-depth assessment of the logistics potential of the Massawa seaport and airport. The latter is quite interesting in terms of its transit potential. We reaffirmed plans being implemented in the field of military and military-technical cooperation.”[46]

In a similar vein, Fedor Lukyanov, one of Russia’s leading foreign policy intellectuals, commented that Qatar and the UAE – who both have a base in Eritrea – are interested in “the emergence of new players in the Red Sea region, except for the United States, in particular Russia and China.”[47]  Lukyanov also maintained that as part of its turn to the south, Russia is interested in seeking bases, as it did earlier with Sudan, because this Russian presence strengthens Moscow’s position and adds guarantees for Russia’s business. The call for enhanced relationships with key Middle Eastern states, as part of the priorities outlined in the doctrine, fully comport with Russia’s new foreign policy orientation proclaiming priority economic-political ties with the Global South, obviously including the Middle East. Clearly, Russian diplomacy here cannot be limited to Sudan as the domestic political situation is difficult and vulnerability to U.S. pressure can force it to change its orientation at any moment supposedly, unlike Eritrea.[48]

Thus, the quest for naval if not air bases in the Indian Ocean and particularly near the Red Sea, which has become a heavily contested zone itself, predates the new doctrine. The doctrine, accordingly, builds not only on the new Russian foreign policy ideology and orientation emphasizing the Third World or Global South, but also on policies carried out over the last five-six years.[49] Thus, the doctrine is as much a confirmation or retrospective official authorization of what clearly was a well-established policy priority for all of that recent past.

Russian policy in Myanmar

However, we should not think that all this activity is confined to Africa. The policy instruments utilized by Moscow to obtain influence throughout Africa, culminating in naval and/or air bases, are well-known. They consist of energy sales or support for and participation in indigenous energy ventures in these countries, arms sales, security training, massive information programs, educational scholarships to Russian institutions of higher learning, exports of grains and other foodstuffs – an issue that became particularly prominent in the wake of Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea as a result of the Ukraine war – and the dispatching of the Wagner mercenary forces to assist embattled despots. And when we look at Asian countries that are littorals to or close to the Indian Ocean, we see the same instruments in play.

The parallels in Myanmar to Russia’s policies and tactics in Sudan – where Moscow made its most sustained move to obtain an African naval base – and Africa more generally, are telling. Since 2000, Russia has supplied $1.44 billion in arms to Myanmar, making it the second-largest arms supplier behind China. Specifically, Myanmar purchased 30 MiG-29s, 12 Yak-130s, 25 M-17 transport and MI-35 attack helicopters, and 8 Pechora-2M anti-aircraft missile systems. In 2018, it also signed a contract to buy 6 Su-30s.[50] Thus, there is a precedent for buying maritime and air defense capabilities that could be deployed at a future naval and/or air base for future Russian use.

In both instances, Russia employs arms sales plus strong diplomatic support in the UN for these regimes to block hostile UN action or to influence UN policies positively on their behalf. Russia also strongly supports them against insurgents, whatever the cause of the unrest is. Moscow also offers both states information warfare support while also aiming at increased economic penetration of Sudan, if not other similarly situated states.[51] Russian activities in Myanmar also correlate with renewed interest in heightened exposure in Southeast Asia through new arms sales deals with local governments.[52] Therefore, Moscow may be angling for a naval and/or air base in Myanmar, based on its expanding influence there and in return for its support of the regime.

Signs of this intention abound. ‘Military-technical cooperation’ – i.e. arms sales – has grown since the army-led coup in 2021, which put the Tatmadaw back into power. Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing has visited Russia six times since the coup in pursuit of closer ties with Moscow. Russian Defense Minister Shoigu had visited Myanmar just weeks before the coup and it is unlikely that Russian intelligence did not have advance warning of it. During his visit, Shoigu signed a contract to supply Pantsir SAMs and Orlan 10-E surveillance drones to the Tatmadaw.[53] Perhaps more importantly, both sides agreed to permit entry of Russian warships into Myanmar’s ports, a point emphasized by Shoigu.[54] Indeed, Russian ships had already previously visited Myanmar’s ports.[55]

Beyond military sales, Russia and Myanmar have become particularly close through Moscow’s provision of military education, high-level bilateral diplomacy, including state visits, agreements on intelligence sharing on crime and terrorism, and technical assistance.[56] As with Sudan, Moscow has supported the Myanmar government against dissidents, most notably in the Rakhine crisis, which led to charges of genocide against the Rohingya ethnic minority. Despite widespread international opposition and UN resolutions condemning the coup and the new military government, Moscow protected the Tatmadaw in the UN, refused to condemn its domestic policies, and sent Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin there to participate in Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day. Fomin called Myanmar, “Russia’s reliable ally and strategic partner in Southeast Asia and the Asia Pacific” and emphasized that Moscow “adheres to the strategic course of enhancing relations between the two countries.”[57]

Thus, the parallels to Sudan are quite strong. We see in both cases long-standing Russian arms sales and broader military cooperation, support for an authoritarian military regime against domestic opposition – no doubt in large measure to shared antipathy between Moscow and these rulers towards any expression of autonomous political activity – and the potential for increased Russian economic penetration. In Myanmar’s case, it would likely be oil sales to Russia. General Hlaing has already said that he wants expanded economic ties with Russia.[58] Russian energy companies have also been in Myanmar for many years:

In September 2006, Russia’s JSC Zarubezhneft Itera Oil and Gas Company and Sun Group of India jointly agreed to explore for oil and gas in the country with Myanmar’s state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE). Also, in 2007, Russia’s Silver Wave Sputnik Petroleum Pte Ltd. reportedly signed the same deal with MOGE. In 2011, there were reports that Russia’s energy giant Gazprom planned to conduct geological surveys in Myanmar. Moreover, Bashneft oil company already operates in the country and, in 2019, the firm started oil exploration in the former Burma. Still, it is Beijing, rather than Moscow, that is the largest investor in the nation, focusing mostly on oil, gas, and mining. […] Myanmar holds 23 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves as of 2017, ranking 39th in the world. The country is one of the major natural gas producers in the Asian continent. It also holds 50 million barrels of proven oil reserves as of 2016. It is estimated that 80 percent of the gas produced in Myanmar is exported to Thailand and China. The largest oil and gas fields are located in Rakhine state and its shelf zone in the Bay of Bengal. It is the place where clashes between Muslim Rohingya and Rakhine Buddhist communities regularly take place.[59]

Consequently, in many respects, Myanmar’s place in Russian policy closely resembles that of Sudan and represents an open invitation for Russia to intensify its influence in Myanmar through arms sales, diplomatic support in and out of the UN, and heightened economic ties. Therefore, we should not be surprised if we see Russian information warfare purveyors like the Wagner group enter Myanmar and provide economic, political, and military services for the Tatmadaw. Neither should we be surprised if Moscow aims to bill these services in the form of air and/or naval bases. After all, Russian analysts have already stated that Moscow’s motives in Myanmar are the revenues from arms sales, demonstrating support for allies threatened by revolution, and an opportunity to expand influence in Southeast Asia, where arms sales are Russia’s apparently strongest calling card.  Russia is also “driven by the desire to keep lucrative military contracts and possibly gain a foothold in the Indian Ocean.”[60] Given the persistence of this ambition since Soviet times, the consistency of Russian policy in seeking bases in the Indian Ocean, and the opportunities that have now emerged, we should not be surprised if Myanmar becomes the next Russian base in this increasingly critical ocean.

Clearly, great power rivalry in the Indian Ocean is becoming a fact of international life. And despite the stringent economic-military constraints on its power, Russia intends to take an active part in this rivalry. But as we noted above, it may act alone or, as its alliance with China solidifies, act jointly with Beijing in hugely disruptive ways that will affect all the stakeholders in Indian Ocean security. In fact, some observers already argue that:

While China and Russia are nowhere near dominating the Indian Ocean region militarily, their combined influence may promise trouble for the United States and its partners. The two countries will likely work together to inure their partners to international pressure, including over human rights violations. And those partners will receive security benefits (such as military access) and economic benefits (such as preferential economic ties) in return. Although it seems a bit exaggerated, there is some truth to Iranian Admiral Hossein Khanzadi’s declaration that strategic coordination with Russia and China means “the era of American free action in the region is over”. […] China and Russia may be slow in enhancing their strategic coordination in the Indian Ocean slowly, but the intent is there. The United States and its allies may still be dominant militarily. But we should be careful not to fall under the illusion that this guarantees influence. With China and Russia presenting themselves as strong alternative powers, the United States and like-minded countries have to work that much harder to promote sustainable economic development, protect international rules and norms, and ensure peace and security in the region.[61]

And if this Sino-Russian collaboration does happen, given current trends like the Indo-Chinese rivalry, the new Sino-Iranian accord, Russo-Iranian closeness, and overall Sino-American rivalry, this already increasingly contested ocean will then truly become a cockpit of great power rivalry. And then the chances that this rivalry will stay peaceful will decline precipitously while the risks to international security will grow commensurately.


[1] Iulian Romanyshyn, “Ukraine, NATO and the Black Sea,” Policy Brief, NATO Defense College, January 30, 2023, http://bitly.ws/ACgK; Michael Starr, “Ukraine Sinks Five Russian Boats Carrying Recon and Sabotage Teams,” Jerusalem Post, February 1, 2023, http://bitly.ws/ACgt.

[2] Quoted in Geoffrey F. Gresh, To Rule Eurasia’s Waves: The New Great Power Competition at Sea (Yale University Press, 2020):  p. 101.

[3] Missile Defense Project, “3M-14 Kalibr (SS-N-30A),” Missile Threat – Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 11, 2016, https://bit.ly/3LqWRpG; Roger McDermott, “Russian Navy Prioritizes Tsirkon Hypersonic Missiles,” Eurasia Daily Monitor 17, no. 83 (2020), https://bit.ly/3p5okpt; Dmitry Litovkin, “Russian Supersonic Missiles Behave Like Wolves,” Russia Beyond, August 9, 2013, https://bit.ly/42bypj6.

[4] Litovkin, “Russian Supersonic Missiles Behave Like Wolves.”

[5] Kyle Mizokani, “Report: Russia Designing Cruise Missiles With 3,000 Mile Range,” Popular Mechanics, January 8, 2019, http://bitly.ws/C9SK.

[6] Benjamin Brimelow, “US Aircraft Carriers Still Rule the Seas, but Russia and China Both Have Plans to Change That,” Business Insider, January 11, 2021, http://bitly.ws/ACih.

[7] Russian Official Internet Portal of Legal Information, Fundamentals of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Field of Naval Activities for the Period up to 2030 [Russian], July 20, 2017, http://bitly.ws/ACiY.

[8] Russia Maritime Studies Institute, Maritime Doctrine of the Russian Federation, July 31, 2022, http://bitly.ws/ACjM.

[9] Stephen Blank, ”Power in Evidence: The International Maritime Rivalry in the Red Sea,” Trends Research & Advisory, November 18, 2022, http://bitly.ws/ACk3.

[10] Russia Maritime Studies Institute, Maritime Doctrine of the Russian Federation, July 31, 2022, http://bitly.ws/ACjM.

[11] Theodore Karasik, “US, Russia’s Struggle for Africa Takes Center Stage – Analysis,” Eurasia Review, January 31, 2023, http://bitly.ws/ACkF.

[12] Hamza Hendawi, “Lavrov Says Russia Supports Sudan’s Call to End UN Sanctions and Awaits Naval Base Nod,” The National, February 10, 2023, http://bitly.ws/ACkX.

[13] Demitri Sevastopulo and John Reed, “US and India Launch Ambitious Tech and Defence Initiatives,” Financial Times, January 31, 2023, http://bitly.ws/ACmd.

[14] Debalina Ghoshal, “Russia Moves in on Sudan,” Gatestone Institute International Policy Council, August 13, 2019, http://bitly.ws/ACn7; Mustaf, “Russia Base in Somaliland in Final Preparatory Stages,” SomTribune, January 31, 2020, http://bitly.ws/ACno.

[15] Samuel Ramani, “Russia’s Port Sudan Naval Base: A Power Play on the Red Sea,” Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), December 7, 2020, http://bitly.ws/ACnT; Samuel Ramani, “Russia’s Naval Base in Sudan Opens Long-Sought Gateway to the Red Sea,” World Politics Review, December 23, 2020, http://bitly.ws/ACo8.

[16] Gustavo Mendiolaza and Zamaris Saxon, Russia: National Involvement in the Indian Ocean Region, Strategic Analysis Paper, Future Directions International, June 28, 2013, http://bitly.ws/ACoG; Alexey Muraviev, “Russia Wants to be a Power to be Reckoned with in the Indian Ocean,” Lowly Institute, March 15, 2021, http://bitly.ws/ACp2.

[17] Russia Maritime Studies Institute, Maritime Doctrine of the Russian Federation (2015), http://bitly.ws/ACpn; Ksenia Kuzmina, “Russia and the Indian Ocean Security and Governance,” Modern Diplomacy, March 24, 2019, http://bitly.ws/ACpQ.

[18] Dmitry Gorenburg and Paul Schwartz, Russia’s Relations with Southeast Asia, Russie.Nei.Reports No. 26, IFRI (2019): pp. 25-26, http://bitly.ws/ACqA.

[19] John C.K. Daly, “Russian Naval Base In Sudan: Extending Moscow’s Influence In the Middle East and North Africa,” Eurasia Daily Monitor 17, no. 168 (2020), https://bit.ly/42oyU9n; Mike Eckel, “Sudan Slips into Chaos. Russia Lurks In The Background,” Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty, April 18, 2023, https://bit.ly/42q5rfs.

[20] Stephen Blank, “Gunboat Diplomacy a la Russe: Russia’s Naval Base in Sudan and Its Implications,” Defense & Security Analysis 38, no. 4 (2022): pp. 1-21, https://doi.org/10.1080/14751798.2022.2122204.

[21] “Sudan to Evaluate Russian Base Deal,” Arkansas Democrat Gazette, June 3, 2021, http://bitly.ws/ACrv.

[22] “Russia to Set Up Nuclear Warship Logistics Hub in Sudan,” Defense Mirror, November 12, 2020, http://bitly.ws/ACsF.

[23] Samuel Ramani, “Russia’s Port Sudan Naval Base: A Power Play on the Red Sea,” Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), December 7, 2020, http://bitly.ws/ACnT; Samuel Ramani, “Russia’s Naval Base in Sudan Opens Long-Sought Gateway to the Red Sea,” World Politics Review, December 23, 2020, http://bitly.ws/ACo8.

[24] Bruce Jones, “Russia Searches for Strategic Airbase Partner” IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, March 4, 2014, http://bitly.ws/ACtJ.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Alexey Muraviev, “Russia Wants to be a Power to be Reckoned with in the Indian Ocean,” Lowly Institute, March 15, 2021, http://bitly.ws/ACp2.

[27] Ibid.

[28] C. Raja Mohan, “Delhi Needs to Engage with Moscow on the Unfolding Sino-Russian Naval Partnership,” Indian Express, November 26, 2019, http://bitly.ws/ACuj.

[29] “Iran, Russia Reportedly Launch Military Drill in Indian Ocean,” Defense News, February 16, 2021, http://bitly.ws/ACuK.

[30] Debalina Ghoshal, “Russia Moves in on Sudan,” Gatestone Institute International Policy Council, August 13, 2019, http://bitly.ws/ACn7; Mustaf, “Russia Base in Somaliland in Final Preparatory Stages,” SomTribune, January 31, 2020, http://bitly.ws/ACno.

[31] Nikiola Mikovic, “Russia’s Base In Sudan: Power Projection Or Oil Hunt?” Tzarism, January 1, 2021, http://bitly.ws/ACv9.

[32] Stephen Blank, “Will Sudan be the Latest Jewel in the Russian Crown?” (Forthcoming).

[33] “Russia Seeks Naval Base in Egypt,” Middle East Monitor, January 30, 2014, https://cutt.ly/n36C7iS.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Carol R. Saivetz, “Russia and Iran: It’s Complicated,” in Russia Rising: Putin’s Foreign Policy in the Middle East and North Africa, Dimitar Bechev, Nicu Popescu, and Stanislav Secrieru eds. (London: I.B. Tauris, 2021): p. 67.

[36] “Putin Signs Decree on the Creation of a Naval Support Center in Sudan,” Interfax [Russian], November 16, 2020, http://bitly.ws/ACwA.

[37] The Kremlin, “Main Naval Parade,” July 25, 2021, http://bitly.ws/ACwE.

[38] “South Africa, Russia, China to Conduct Joint Exercise in February,” Naval Technology, January 5, 2023, https://bit.ly/3VxVz0D.

[39] Syed Fazl-e-Haider, “The Strategic Implications of Chinese-Iranian-Russian Naval Drills in the Indian Ocean,” China Brief 20, no. 1 (2020), Jamestown Foundation, http://bitly.ws/ACx8.

[40] Brendan Cole, “Russia Teams Up with China and Iran Before Ukraine Crisis Meeting with U.S.” Newsweek, January 21, 2022, http://bitly.ws/ACxi; “Iran, Russia, China to Hold Joint Naval Exercise This Autumn – Iran’s General Staff,” Tass Russian News Agency, September 22, 2022, http://bitly.ws/ACxv.

[41] Vishnu Som and Debanish Achorn, “‘Seeing A Pattern’: Top US Official on Chinese Navy Activity in Indian Ocean,” NDTV, September 23, 2022, http://bitly.ws/ACxP; Prakash Paneerselvam, “China’s Emerging Subsurface Presence in the Indian Ocean,” The Diplomat,

December 3, 2022, http://bitly.ws/ACyg.

[42] Tom Harper, “Competitive Cooperation: The Connection Between Chinese and Russian Initiatives in Africa and Beyond,” Asia Dialogue, June 26, 2019, http://bitly.ws/ACys.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Theodore Karasik, “US, Russia’s Struggle for Africa Takes Center Stage – Analysis,” Eurasia Review, January 31, 2023, http://bitly.ws/ACkF.

[45] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, “Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s Remarks and Answers to Media Questions at a Joint News Conference with Foreign Minister of the State of Eritrea Osman Saleh, Massawa, January 26, 2023,” January 27, 2023, http://bitly.ws/ACyV.

[46] Ibid.

[47] lya Lakstygal and Gleb Mishutin, “Sergey Lavrov Headed for Africa,” Vedomosti, January 24, 2023, http://bitly.ws/ACzy.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Stephen Blank, ”Russia’s New Foreign Policy Orientation,” Eurasia Daily Monitor 20, no.4 (2023), http://bitly.ws/ACzS.

[50] Ian Storey, “Russia’s Defence Diplomacy in Southeast Asia: A Tenuous Lead in Arms Sales But Lagging in Other Areas,” ISEAS Perspective (2021), http://bitly.ws/ACAK.

[51] Sergei Sukhankin, “Russian Naval Base in Sudan Stays for Now: What Happens Next?” Eurasia Daily Monitor 18, no.76 (2021), http://bitly.ws/ACzZ.

[52] “The Northern Bear: How Is the Kremlin Getting Along with Its Neighbors?” May 10, 2021, http://bitly.ws/ACAk.

[53] Ian Storey, “Russia’s Defence Diplomacy in Southeast Asia: A Tenuous Lead in Arms Sales But Lagging in Other Areas,” ISEAS Perspective (2021), http://bitly.ws/ACAK; David Hambling, “Russia Enters Military Drone Export Market with Sale to Myanmar,” Forbes, January 25, 2021, http://bitly.ws/ACC9.

[54] “Russia and Myanmar Extend Military Cooperation,” Maritime Executive, January 21, 2018, http://bitly.ws/ACCC; Prashanth Parameswaran, “What Did the Russian Defense Minister’s Myanmar Visit Accomplish?” The Diplomat, January 23, 2018, http://bitly.ws/ACCL.

[55] Prashanth Parameswaran, “Warship Visit Puts Russia-Myanmar Military Ties into Focus,” The Diplomat, December 15, 2017, http://bitly.ws/ACCR.

[56] Ivan U. Klyszcz, “Russia’s Myanmar Gambit,” Riddle, May 6, 2021, http://bitly.ws/ACDr; Artyom Lukin and Andrey Gubin, “Why Russia Is Betting On Myanmar’s Military Junta,” East Asia Forum, April 27, 2021, http://bitly.ws/ACDK.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Nikola Mikovic, “What is Russia doing in Myanmar?” Global Comment, April 22, 2021, http://bitly.ws/ACEa.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Artyom Lukin and Andrey Gubin, “Why Russia Is Betting On Myanmar’s Military Junta,” East Asia Forum, April 27, 2021, http://bitly.ws/ACDK.

[61] Orianna Skylar Mastro, “Russia and China Team Up on the Indian Ocean,” Lowly Institute, December 16, 2020, http://bitly.ws/ACEq.

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