Egypt seeking Russian arms after US aid cut


Egypt is seeking to purchase arms from Russia following a cut in US military aid to the country and is looking to buy fighter jets, anti-tank missiles and air defence systems.

According to Ruslan Pukhov, a member of the Russian Defense Ministry’s advisory board and head of the Russian Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST), Egypt is looking to buy up to $2 billion worth of Russian weaponry, Bloomberg reports.

This week a Russian military delegation headed by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu will visit Egypt for two-day talks on military-technical cooperation. The delegation will visit Serbia and Egypt between November 12 and 15 (Serbia is interested in S-300 missiles and MiG-29s). The Egypt visit was confirmed by that country’s foreign minister Nabil Fahmy.

Last week a Palestinian newspaper, Dunia al-Watan, reported that a Persian Gulf country had agreed to provide financing for $4 billion worth of Russian arms. Gulf countries that have supported Egypt’s new government include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

This week’s visit by the Russian delegation will include officials from state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, which is seeking to sell MiG-29 fighters to the North African country. Pukhov told Bloomberg that Egypt is interested in purchasing 24 MiG-29M2 fighters worth around $1.7 billion. This model features radar absorbent materials, modern avionics and Russian or Western armament.

The Russian drive to sell arms to Egypt comes after the US government suspended some of its $1.3 billion in annual military aid following the ouster of President Mohamed Mursi by the military in July. The aid cuts stopped the delivery of four F-16 fighters, ten Apache helicopters, M1 Abrams tank kits, Harpoon anti-ship missiles as well as $260 million in cash.

Fahmy earlier this month said that Egypt would look beyond the US to meet its security needs. “There is no question in our mind that we will fulfil our national security needs as they are required from whatever source we need”.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told Bloomberg that the Russian visit does not mean substituting one party with another but rather is a sign of increasing alternatives and choices.