An investigation by The Telegraph found out that, over the past years, Russia smuggled hundreds of tonnes of illicit gold from Sudan. This illegal trade was part of Russian efforts to prepare for sanctions amidst plans to invade Ukraine.
The Telegraph – 03 March 2022 – Original article
The gold reserve of the Russian Central Bank allegedly quadrupled since 2010. The Telegraph found out that, while there is officially close to no gold export from Sudan to Russia, the Kremlin is a huge player in the mining sector. However, true scale of the operations are difficult to gauge.
Interestingly enough, Wagner Group is coincidentaly known to operate in Sudan. It has taken part in training the paramilitary group RSF (Rapid Support Force) of head of state Mohamed « Hemedti » Hamdan Daglo. « Hemedti » took power in 2021 following a military coup. RSF together with Wagner cooperate to secure important gold mines in remote areas.
Russian mining company M-Invest, also related to Evgeny Prigozhin, started operating in Sudan in 2017. This is yet another example of the oligarch’s usual way of doing business. Wagner Group deployed to secure mines and gain political momentum while a mining company is created to reap economic benefits. This scheme is very similar to the one used in the Central African Republic and Libya.
Those activities are supported by intensive online « anti-revolution » campaigns aiming at securing the regime. Such operations are also similar to the one conducted in other countries such as Mali and CAR.
Once again, Russian activities in Sudan must not be seen as independent. These are part of a croader effort to strengthen presence in Africa while undermining the Western countries that have traditionally been the heavy weigths in the area. Current efforts to settle in Mali and, probably, Burkina Faso, also answer Russia’s need to secure resources and gold while facing more and more isolation globally.