Egypt closing in on a $2 billion arms deal with Russia
Russia is proposing to sell Egypt modern fighter jets, helicopters and air defense systems reportedly worth $2 billion, Russian officials said, in a clear sign of returning military cooperation between the two countries.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, along with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, travelled to Egypt on Thursday to seek valuable contracts with the country’s government after the United States curbed its military aid to Cairo last month.
Shoigu had confirmed that military collaboration was discussed in meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi but did not elaborate further.
“We agreed today to take steps toward creating a legal basis for our agreements [on military collaboration],” he said, according to RIA Novosti news agency.
Mikhail Zavaly, a senior official with Russia’s arms export agency Rosoboronexport who will lead its delegation at the upcoming Dubai air show, confirmed Russia wanted to sell military hardware to Egypt, according to Agence France-Presse.
“Now we are offering Egypt modern helicopters, air defense equipment and the modernization of previously purchased military equipment,” he told the RIA Novosti news agency.
“The word is now with our partners,” he added.
He did not give further details but Russian daily Vedomosti said negotiations were ongoing about the sale of MiG-29M/M2 fighter jets, low range air defense systems and Kornet anti-tank rockets.
Citing Russian defence sources, Vedomosti said the deals were worth more than $2 billion and could be financed by Egypt’s Arab Gulf allies.
Earlier this week a senior Rosoboronexport official told RIA Novosti that Russia wanted to sell military hardware to Egypt.
“We are ready to negotiate with the Egyptian side the possibility of deliveries of new weaponry as well as repairing equipment supplied in Soviet times,” the Rosoboronexport official said.
But the official noted that such new supplies would depend on Egypt’s ability to pay for them. “Moscow is ready to discuss with Cairo a possible loan to that country,” he said.
The Soviet Union was the main weapons supplier to Egypt in the 1960s and early 1970s, but cooperation declined after the U.S.-brokered peace treaty with Israel when Cairo began to enjoy generous U.S. aid.
However, the U.S. government suspended some of its military aid to Cairo after Mursi’s ouster.