Russia’s $2 Billion Weapons Deal with Egypt
Russia's $2 billion weapons deal with Egypt is viewed, by EFD Fellow Anna Borshchevskaya, as an attempt to renew Soviet-era ties. This deal also gives Russia the opportunity to fill the void that the U.S. is leaving as an ally for Egypt, thus increasing its influence in the Middle East.
Russia will provide Egypt $2 billion worth of weapons, according to the accompanying excerpts from Russia’s business-leaning Vedomosti and Newsru.co.il. According to Russian officials cited in the articles, the weapons under discussion are those that the U.S. had denied Cairo when President Obama partially suspended military aid to Egypt in October 2013 following the ouster of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-led government and its president, Mohammad Morsi. This will be the largest military agreement for Russia and Egypt since the 1970s –the largest arms deal, in general, for decades, according to some Western reports citing Russian sources. Russia and Egypt have been working for a while now on renewing their Soviet-era ties, and the weapons deal is the latest, major step in this trajectory. Russia’s Head of the International Committee of the Federation Council Mikhail Margelov is quoted in Newsru.com.il as saying that Russia intends to return to the Middle East, among other regions, “after a 20-year hiatus.” Indeed, in November 2012 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov went on a Middle East tour, which began in Egypt, where Lavrov invited Morsi to come to Russia upon Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal invitation. In November 2013 Lavrov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with their Egyptian counterparts to discuss the arms deal. Russian-Egyptian ties go a long way back. The Soviet Union had a close relationship with the secular regime of now-ousted Hosni Mubarak. Earlier, Tsarist Russia supported Egyptian Christians for centuries. Renewing ties serves the interests of both Russia and Egypt. The current Egyptian leadership is angry at the United States for what it perceives to be U.S. abandoning its ally, and is in search for a new patron. This opens a window for Russia to step in to fill the void, as the Kremlin seeks not only commercial ties, but also, more importantly, influence in the Middle East.
This article was originally published here.