Sudanese sources have confirmed that military from the Russian Wagner private military firm is now working in the east African country but refused to provide further details about their activities in the country.
The mercenary outfit which is highly active in the Syrian and Ukrainian was seen last year in Western Darfur and on the border with the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR) to protect the government of Faustin-Archange Touadéra and Russian mining industry there.
However, on 26 December Sudanese activists released photos showing the Russian fighters deployed in central Khartoum observing the anti-government protests that started on 19 December.
Opposition sources say the Russian military are in Khartoum to train the special operations forces of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).
Reached by Sudan Tribune, a source close to the NISS confirmed that Wagner is actually working with the Sudanese intelligence and security services.
Wagner military spotted in Khartoum streets during last December protests (phot activists)
However, the official who was speaking under the condition of anonymity refused to elaborate on the details of their mission in Sudan.
"This is something that I cannot disclose," he said.
Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir several times said he wanted to consolidate military cooperation with Russia in various field.
During a visit to Moscow in July 2018, al-Bashir met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both leaders pledged to promote military cooperation in the near future.
In his first meeting with Putin in November 2017 in the Russian city of Sochi, al-Bashir offered to construct an airbase for Russia on the Red Sea coast and to re-equip the Sudanese army with the Russian weapons including SU-30 fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles.
Different military delegations from both sides visited Moscow and Khartoum, since last year but the details of the highly confidential talks remain secret.