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Egypt and Russia Defrost Military Ties

Preliminary talks have been initiated between Russian and Egypt with the purpose of granting Russian airpower the permission to use Egyptian airbases. A draft prepared by the Russian defense ministry was submitted and approved by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. 

The Russian-proposed draft intends to grant fighter jets, bombers and military transport planes five year access to Egyptian airspace, with premises established to extend the duration of the deal. If implemented, the proposed deal would deepen Russia’s military presence in the region to the levels unmatched since 1973. The proposed draft was pre-empted by the signing of multiple new arms contracts between the two countries, signifying that broadening strategic military engagement with Cairo is of particular interest with the Russian Federation. 

(Photo Courtesy of: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/30/world/middleeast/russia-egypt-air-bases.html)

(Photo Courtesy of: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/30/world/middleeast/russia-egypt-air-bases.html)

In 1973, Cairo expelled the Soviet military presence, composed of 17,000 troops, from Egypt. The expulsion was followed by a broadening of US-Egypt military and a Soviet established arms embargo directed towards Cairo. Over the past forty years, the United States has sent the Egyptian government over 70 billion dollars in aid in return for unmatched levels of access to Egyptian airspace. 

(Photo courtesy of: http://aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/russia-egypt-to-discuss-military-cooperation/984999)

(Photo courtesy of: http://aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/russia-egypt-to-discuss-military-cooperation/984999)

The New York Times cited analysts who specialize in the field of US-Cairo relations who claim that Cairo’s perceived willingness to allow Russian airpower access to Egyptian airbases demonstrates a reduction in United States influence in the region. The chill in relations was preempted by the United States’ decision to cut 195 million dollars in military aid to Cairo in response to Cairo’s inability and unwillingness to account for multiple human rights violations.