Russian Ministers of Defence Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov will arrive in Egypt on Wednesday for a two-day visit according to Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Russian ministry confirmed that military cooperation will be discussed.
The dates were announced following a coordination meeting with representatives from different Egyptian ministries ahead of the arrival of the Russian delegation.
Assistant Foreign Minister for European Affairs Hatem Seif El Nasr said the meeting aimed to strengthen coordination “between ministries and government agencies on areas of bilateral cooperation existing with the Russian side or proposals for development” of these relations. It is hoped that this would contribute to “strengthening and deepening the Egyptian-Russian relations at various levels.”
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the ministers will hold “separate talks, as well as a meeting in the format of ‘two plus two’.” The Russian ministry pointed out that this would be “the first time in the history of bilateral relations” a visit would be conducted in this way, “which confirms the high priority” that Russia attaches to these talks. The talks are expected to include discussions on regional and international issues as well as bilateral talks covering political, military, technological and economic cooperation.
A spokesman for the Egyptian armed forces confirmed that interim Minister of Defence Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi would meet with Shoigu but refused to comment on whether or not any deal on military equipment would be discussed.
Shoigu and Lavrov’s visit to Cairo comes at a time when Egypt’s foreign ministry is looking to reposition itself in global politics. Egypt’s historic relationship with the United States has become strained since the decision by the US administration to suspend the delivery of military equipment, worth $260m pending the success of Egypt’s transitional roadmap. Egypt received approximately $1.3bn annually from the US in assistance programmes.
Egypt’s interim Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy has denied that Egypt is moving away from the US and towards Russia, saying that Egypt is exploring all options and is not favouring one country over another. In an interview with AFP last week Fahmy said that he intends to expand relations with Russia saying that he sees this as the “beginning of a new phase.”
From 2008-2012 Russia accounted for 26% of the world’s arms exports, second only to the US, which accounted for 30%, according to data published by the Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute in March 2013.