Ethiopia Russia military alliance is a threat to Red Sea security

United States Navy and French forces in the Red Sea in 2019 Source US Navy

The military alliance with Russia created by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Russian leader Putin apparently allows for placement of Russian forces in Ethiopia. While fellow African Union members Kenya, Gabon, and Ghana have denounced the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Ethiopia has remain silent apparently in support of its military ally. Given the now clearly hostile situation developing quickly between NATO and Russia, this Ethiopian agreement must be seen as a threat to Red Sea security and to NATO presence in the Red Sea. This has implications also to the importance of passing legislation in the Congress which sanction Ethiopia. Maintaining freedom of commerce through the sea lanes of the Red Sea and Suez canal is vital to the world. 

Over the past year Russia has been working to establish a naval presence in the Port of Sudan. Analysts have noted that the previous Soviet regime failed to establish such bases giving NATO an edge which Putin seems intent on not repeating. American warships have began to also visit the port of Sudan and at times have faced tension with Russian naval elements.

Now the clearly adversarial nature of Russia and the United States aggravated by the Ukraine invasion means that in maintaining the strategically vital Red Sea the USA must start to consider Ethiopia as potentially a hostile ally of Russia. If Abiy Ahmed’s  government allows Russian Air Force or ground forces to station in Ethiopia this may be unacceptable.

Author: Professor Tony Magana

Professor Tony Magana is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia. He directs a neurosurgery residency and training program as well as neuroscience research.

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