Russia and Eritrea have deepened their bilateral relations after Moscow announced her plans to build a logistics center at a port in the Horn of Africa country. The plans were announced following a meeting between the Russian and Eritrean delegation. The deal is in line with the recent shift in foreign policy by Eritrea from isolationism to establish high profile ties with neighboring countries and other allies including a peace deal with Ethiopia.
The scope, location, and timeline of the project are yet to be announced but it is a step in the right direction both countries diplomatically but more especially for Russia which is seeking to establish relationships with African countries. The same is evidenced by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s multiple trips to Africa this year to discuss military, economic and diplomatic partnerships. In late August, Russia signed a military cooperation agreement with the Central African Republic (CAR). That deal focuses on training armed forces in the CAR.
Eritrea’s two ports, in Massawa and Assab, occupy strategic points along the Red Sea. Access to those ports is one benefit Ethiopia, a landlocked country, may reap from the peace deal. Thus, the Russian logistics facility would reinvigorate trade and business between both Russia and Eritrea as well as landlocked Ethiopia.
The logistics facility will be the second in Eritrea as United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a naval base in Assab and from which it has launched warplanes to fight the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The strategic location of Eritrea and especially proximity to the Middle East as well as North Africa makes her very well placed to house a logistics facility that would aid in the war against the various Islamists terror groups in the above-mentioned regions. The move by Russia is very timely as the United States discussing the closure of the majority of her military outposts in Africa including one in Kenya, East Africa positioning Moscow to assume the role currently being played by the US troops in Africa.