Russia ready to use Egyptian airbases in snub of U.S.

By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |  Dec. 1, 2017 at 8:27 AM
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Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Egypt and Russia reached a preliminary agreement on Moscow's use of Egyptian air bases, both sides said -- in a move that's viewed by some as a snub of U.S. military interests in the region.

Sergey Shoigu, Russian defense minister, arrived in Cairo to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi. Russia published a draft agreement calling for "the exchange of airspace and air infrastructure between the two countries."

The deal would allow Russian use of Egyptian air bases and airspace. It is regarded as a rebuff of the United States' waning influence in international military and diplomatic matters, The New York Times reported on Friday.

The agreement also signals a rebuff of the Trump administration.

Since 1973, when Cairo expelled the Soviet Union's military from Egyptian territory and grew its relationship with the United States, Egypt has received over $70 billion in U.S. aid. The cost has been justified in part by U.S. use of Egyptian air bases and airspace.

Cairo typically refuses use of its airbases by foreign countries, Turkey's Anadolu Agency reported.

Since the Sisi regime began in Egypt in 2013, Cairo and Moscow have cemented their military relations with several multi-billion dollar deals and joint military exercises. A $3.5 billion deal, signed in 2014, will supply Egypt with Russian defense systems, artillery and weapons, as well as 46 Russian-built military helicopters.

"The amount of bilateral contacts is surging, a portfolio of orders from Russian defense enterprises is growing," Shoygu said Thursday at a session of a Russian-Egyptian commission for military technical cooperation. "We hope a breakthrough will be made in all spheres of military cooperation such as joint manufacturing and transfers of technology and weapons, joint military exercises, teaching and training."

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