The Russian government decided to send Egypt a new missile boat on Saturday, as part of a mutual military cooperation deal between the two countries, the official Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported.
According to MENA, the move comes “as part of Russia’s ongoing support of Egypt, and the alignment in views of the political leaderships of the two countries regarding the war on terrorism in Egypt and the region.”
The warship is one of the most developed Russian naval weapons and boasts the country’s latest missile technology. The missile boat and its crew visited Egypt during the opening of the New Suez Canal on August 6.
A delegation of experts from the Egyptian Naval Forces is expected to travel to Russia to receive training on how to operate the new missile boat.
Russia, the world’s second-largest arms exporter, has sought to bolster its relationship with the Egyptian regime after Egypt-US ties strengthened following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Since then, both countries sealed a preliminary arms deal worth $3.5 billion on September, according to Reuters.
On July 30, the US also dispatched eight F-16 fighter jets to Egypt as part of the country’s “ongoing support in Egypt and throughout the region,” according to a US Embassy statement.
The US had repeatedly postponed the delivery of the aircrafts following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, given that US laws prohibit sending aid to countries that have undergone military coups. This reluctance to ship the fighter jets was a source of major contention with the post-Morsi government.
“The F-16s provide a valuable capability that is needed during these times of regional instability. America’s commitment to a strong relationship with Egypt is demonstrated by continued cooperation and capability sharing between our two countries. Extremists threaten regional security and these weapon systems provide a new tool to help Egypt fight terrorism,” Major General Charles Hopper, a US Embassy senior defense official in Cairo, said in the statement.
The Egyptian government also received three Rafale fighter jets from France in July, the first dispatch of 24 warplanes that are part of a $5.6 billion deal brokered this year, according to AFP.
Rights groups, including Amnesty International, have criticized the deal, fearing that the Egyptian military could use the French warplanes in a manner that violates human rights and international law.
Following mounting criticism from the West of Egypt’s human rights record, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has paid various visits to western states in order to strengthen their relationship with Egypt, brokering financial and arms deals in France and Germany.
French President Francois Holland was the guest of honor during the New Suez Canal celebrations, with the Russian Prime Minister also attending the celebrations, alongside various international leaders and delegations.