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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Egypt and Russia strengthen and deepen their cooperation as Vladimir Putin visits Cairo

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Russian Vladimir
Putin
(Image: Ahram Weekly)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited Egypt on Monday, 9 February, for the first time since his last visit in 2005, when Hosni Mubarak was Egypt’s President. Egypt’s current President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in his turn has visited Moscow two times during the previous year, once as a Defense Minister and the second time as an elected President.

Vladimir Putin has arrived in Cairo on Monday, 9 February, for the two days visit aimed to boost and deepen Egypt-Russian relations and cooperation, according to official statements.


After Mr. Putin arrived in Cairo he was welcomed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and later the both leaders have spent the evening at Cairo Opera House and at Cairo Tower, as the talks between the countries’ delegations were scheduled to start on Tuesday, 10 February.

Official ceremony welcoming Putin was held on Tuesday, 10 February, at the Presidential Palace Qasr El-Qobba, the 19th century palace. The ceremony included gun salute and military parade, as Russian President was welcomed by a very interesting and even extravagant version of Russian national anthem performed by Cairo Opera Orchestra. The visit of Russian president to Egypt was already called “historic” by Egyptian media. It’s worth mentioning that many Egyptians support Vladimir Putin as the totally supported Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as Egypt’s President and supported also Egyptian current policies as well.

The negotiations between the delegations and the leaders of the two countries were ongoing during Tuesday, as the talks included not only the issues of the bilateral trade, economic, military and strategic cooperation, but also the issues of regional security, fighting the terrorism, Syrian war, Libyan conflict and fighting and Israeli-Palestinian case as well.

After the talks the two Presidents have held a joint press-conference stating an importance of strengthening and deepening of Egypt-Russian relations and cooperation. A number of economic and strategic agreements, trade and military deals were also signed. Thus, Egypt and Russia announced withdrawal of US dollars from the operations of the bilateral trade and declared military cooperation as well, with Russia selling Egyptian Armed Forces weapons.

In addition to that Russia will help Egypt to build its first nuclear power plant, according to the official statement of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. A memorandum of understanding to build the nuclear power plant was signed by the two sides. The nuclear plant is planned to be built in El-Dabaa.

During the press-conference both presidents stressed about the importance of strengthening relations between Egypt and Russia, especially in the military sector and fighting terrorism. The statement also included an importance of continuing fighting for the Palestinian cause, as Egyptian President El-Sisi emphasized the necessity of the two-state solution.

Some experts and diplomats though think that Putin’s visit to Cairo was nothing else but a message for USA and the Western countries and an attempt to demonstrate that Russia is not isolated, even despite the deepening sanctions, imposed by the Western countries including USA due to the ongoing Russian led and sponsored war in Eastern Ukrainian Donbas region.

It’s worth mentioning also that this visit happened during the meeting of the Western politicians and diplomats attempting to find the ways to resolve the deadly crisis in Ukraine and to stop the military activities and only one day ahead of the new round of the Minsk talks, scheduled for 11 February, where Putin is expected to be presented.

Meanwhile, Egypt, that was always an ally of US and received annual military aid, was probably trying to send a signal to US as well by welcoming Vladimir Putin and strengthening relations with Russia, India and Chine as well, think many experts. Of course, Egypt could be interested in some trade agreements with Russia and buying some military equipment and weapons from Russia, but of course Russia could not be the main strategic partner for Egypt. Thus, this cooperation between Russia and Egypt could be also a signal to US that Egypt has its own foreign policies and isn’t influenced by US anymore.