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Russian Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense held talks in Cairo

19.11.2013 10:49

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and the Russian president's special envoy Mikhail Bogdanov arrived in Cairo. Russian representatives met with the head of the Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, as well as with the Minister of Defense and Military Industry of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

 Representatives of Russia and Egypt discussed the situation in the sphere of global and regional security, including the Middle East and North Africa, the problems of strengthening the regime of nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the prospects for the further development of relations between Russia and Egypt.

 In turn, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel Aty said that the visit of Russian ministers is "an important political signal to the world," noting that Egypt seeks to develop cooperation with Russia, including the military-technical sphere. It is worth noting that the visit of Russian officials in Cairo was the first visit of such level in decades.

 The representatives of Russia and Egypt also raised the possibility of signing a contract for the supply of Russian arms to Egypt. It is reported that the cost of the contract is expected to be two billion dollars. The Russian side is ready to upgrade existing Egyptian army samples of Soviet and Russian weapons, and to supply new modern equipment.

 At the same the meeting of Sergei Shoigu with his Egyptian counterpart is of particular importance, as Abdel Fattah al-Sisi plays a crucial role in the transitional government formed after the overthrow of the representative of the "Muslim Brotherhood" President Mohammed Mursi in July this year.

 After Islamists swept out of power, Egypt has lost its key partner in military-technical cooperation: The United States refused to sell arms to Egypt. Washington also ceased to pay annual cash assistance to Cairo. In addition, the EU has also stopped supplying arms and defense products to Egypt.

 Nowadays the intensity of military-technical cooperation between Russia and Egypt is not so high, but there are many prospects for development. This is primarily servicing and upgrading the Egyptian air defense systems, which is 60% equipped with Soviet samples. In addition, the Egyptians are interested in the purchase of modern air defense systems Tor-M2 (NATO classification SA-15 Gauntlet), Buk-M2 (SA-17 Grizzly), Panzyr S-1 (SA-22 Greyhound), as well as the MiG-29 (Fulcrum) and Su-30 (Flanker C) fighters.

 The main obstacle to a deal is the financial problems of Egypt. In such circumstances Saudi Arabia can become a sponsor of purchases of Russian weapons for Egypt since Riyadh is really concerned that the power in the country came to "Muslim Brotherhood." In addition, Russia is considering giving Egypt a loan.

 The visit of Russian representatives indicates a certain change in Russia's position to the Middle East, and probably for the better.

Russia defends Arab interests in relations with Israel and has played a constructive role in the defense of the Arab countries. Russia has been a true friend of the Arab peoples for decades. Russia’s consistent position in the Syrian crisis settlement protecting the rights of the Syrian people to administer their own destiny without the intervention of external forces is a matter of respect. Russia is respected for this among many in the Arab world.