Russian Officials in Egypt to Discuss Arms Deal
The most senior Russian officials to visit Egypt in years will arrive Wednesday to discuss weapons deals, further signalling Egypt's shift in alliance from the US to Russia. Al Jazeera reports that the delegation includes Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Their visit comes amid reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Egypt as well later this month, further solidifying the new alignment between Russia and Egypt.
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that the delegation would discuss “the full spectrum” of ties between the two countries, including “military-technical cooperation."
Talk of an Egyptian $15 billion dollar arms deal with Russia partially funded by Saudi Arabia, which similarly seems to be turning from the US to Russia, appears to be materializing in the visit. The deal reportedly would have Egypt purchase MiG-29 planes and other military equipment.
Furthermore, the "Varyag," flagship of Russia's Pacific Fleet, docked in Alexandria on Monday according to The Hindu, marking the first landing of a Russian warship in Egypt in over twenty years. The move comes as Russia is expanding its naval presence in the region even as America is decreasing its presence.
Russia's delegation will arrive just after Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy's announced on Saturday that his country will expand cooperation with Russia, adding that Egypt is moving into a "new phase" as US ties weaken.
Relations with the US have cooled since former President Mohammed Morsi was deposed in July, as America froze $250 million in military aid over the ongoing instability in Egypt.