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Signalling growing ties, Putin holds talks with Mali’s military leader again 

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The Russian government has confirmed that its President, Vladimir Putin discussed trade and security with Mali’s military leader, Colonel Assimi Goita on Tuesday.

Putin’s frequent interactions with Assimi Goita, the interim leader of Mali, highlight Moscow’s keen interest in expanding its sway in the violently unstable Sahel region of West Africa, where it is fostering close security connections at the expense of France and the United States.

At a conference in Russia in July, Putin agreed to give free grain to six African nations, including Mali. He spoke to Goita on August 15 and September 10 after meeting him there, according to the Kremlin.

The conversation between the leaders is their third phone conversation in less than two months.

According to a statement from the Kremlin, the two leaders talked about their “shared determination to further boost trade and economic ties, security cooperation, and the fight against terrorism.”

 

In a post on social media, Goita affirmed this and wrote: “I expressed my gratitude for all the support that Russia gives to Mali.”

Against Western governments’ opposition, Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, whose leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was killed in a plane crash in August, has been active in supporting Goita’s administration in Mali. Wagner has also been accused of committing grave human rights abuses there and elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East.

Musings From Abroad

Russia begins diesel exports to Sudan as EU boycott bites

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London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) data shows that Russia has started sending fuel to troubled North African country, Sudan.

The sales begin amid new demand for Russia’s refined goods following a trade boycott against it by the EU over the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Since February 2023 when the EU put a full ban on importing Russian oil products, diesel has been sent to Brazil, Turkey, and countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It has also been loaded from ship to ship.

Data from LSEG shows that two fuel ships, the Pavo Rock and the Conga, brought about 70,000 metric tons of ultra-low sulphur diesel to Sudan after loading it in February at Primorsk in the Baltic Sea. Shipping records show that the goods were unloaded at Port Sudan Al Khair Terminal on April 2 and April 5, respectively.

The Marabella Sun, a ship that was loaded in March at the Russian Baltic port of Vysotsk, is now on its way to Port Sudan and should be unloaded on April 17.

A source quoted by Reuters claims Sudan needs about 45,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 6,000 tons per day, of diesel to meet local demand. However, Sudan’s Petroleum Ministry did not answer a request for comment.

About 60,000 to 70,000 metric tons of diesel are brought into Sudan every month, mostly from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. According to the LSEG, about 116,000 metric tons of diesel came into Sudan in March.

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Musings From Abroad

US wants more funding in response to Sudan conflict

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The United States Special Envoy to Sudan says that Washington will push for more than $100 million in extra funding to help with the conflict in the North African country. Washington hopes to rally other donors at a conference this month for donors to talk about the humanitarian crisis.

Partners from around the world should give the Sudanese civil war more attention, according to Special Envoy Tom Perriello, who also hopes that more countries will show their support at a donor meeting in Paris on April 15.

The Sudanese Army (SAF) and the militia Rapid Support Forces (RSF) went to war on April 15, 2023. Since the terrible fighting in Sudan began in April 2023, more than a million people have fled to nearby countries. About 48,000 Chadians were forced to return to eastern Chad and about 378,000 Sudanese refugees are among them.

“The international response has been pitiful. We’re at 5% of the needed amount,” said Perriello, adding that the U.S. has already committed over a billion dollars in humanitarian relief to the conflict.

“We’ll be doing another nine-figure push around this,” he said, without elaborating.

Millions of people are now severely hungry because of the war, which has also caused the world’s biggest migration crisis and waves of killings and sexual violence based on ethnicity in the Darfur area of western Sudan.

Perriello said that the US will keep looking at what is happening on the ground and will take steps to make things more expensive as needed through sanctions and other methods. Because of the war, the US has put sanctions on the deputy head of the RSF, other big companies owned by both sides and other groups.

Perriello also said that peace talks probably wouldn’t start again on April 18, which is the date he had said before that Washington was looking at. Saudi Arabia and the US tried to make peace in Jeddah last year, but the talks did not go well.

“I don’t think we’ll see meetings in Jeddah on the 18th,” he said, adding that Washington is not waiting for formal talks to begin but that negotiations are happening every day.

“We would love frankly for the talks to have started last week. But what we know is the Saudis are committed to the talks, to talks that include a broader set of the key actors, and we are hoping that they will commit to a date.”

The UN says that 8 million people have left their homes and that 25 million people, or half of Sudan’s population, need help. The US says that both sides of the conflict have done crimes during the war.

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