Source: Reuters

Russian contractors are training the army in Sudan, says Moscow

JANUARY 23, 2019 / 7:32 PM

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on
Wednesday that private Russian companies were training the army in
Sudan, confirming for the first time their presence in a country
shaken by protests against its president, a close Russian ally.

Demonstrators have been on the streets near-daily since Dec. 19,
initially to protest against an economic crisis then to call for an
end to the 30-year rule of President Omar al-Bashir.

“According to our information, representatives of Russian private
security companies, who have nothing to do with Russian state bodies,
really do operate in Sudan,” Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the
Russian Foreign Ministry, told reporters.

Zakharova said she was responding to what she called an irresponsible
story in the British press which she said had falsely alleged that
Russian mercenaries were helping the Sudanese authorities quell the
protests.

“Their task (of the private security firms) is limited to training
staff for the military and law enforcement agencies of the Republic of
Sudan,” she said.

Official statistics from the Russian Federal Security Service
available online show a surge in the number of the Russian citizens
who departed for Sudan in late 2017.

Two hundred Russians traveled to Sudan in the fourth quarter of 2017,
according to the data. Prior to that, the highest number of Russians
heading to the African country was 76 in any given quarter since 2013,
the same data showed.

Moscow has been cagey about its activities in Syria, where up to
several thousand private Russian military contractors secretly helped
President Bashar al-Assad regain control of Syrian territory.

Russian officials denied the contractors operated in Syria at the
Russian state’s behest despite them being based at a military facility
back home..

Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Andrew Osborn