Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu start a two-day visit to Cairo Wednesday, Nov. 13, to wind up a major sale of advanced Russian weaponry for the Egyptian army and the Russian Navy’s access to port facilities on the Mediterranean.
debkafile’s military sources, which first revealed the coming transactions in the last week of October, now amplify that report by disclosing that Moscow has agreed to equip Egypt with a sophisticated combined double-layered system which covers both its defensive and offensive requirements.
1. The first layer will provide a shield against attack by stealth aircraft, drones and cruise missiles for all of Egypt’s airspace, including the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and its coastal waters, up to the central Mediterranean. Our military sources add that part of the system will be positioned in eastern Egypt for the protection of key Saudi cities as well.
2. The second layer will be built around sophisticated surface missiles with ranges that cover all points in the Middle East including Iran. Moscow and Cairo are keeping the types of missiles secret.
Saudi Arabia is putting up the estimated $4 billion to pay for the transaction.
The Russian delegation will include the first deputy director of the Federal Service on Military-Technical Cooperation, Andrei Boitsov, and officials from state-arms exporter Rosoboronexport.
Egyptian officials continued Tuesday to deny reports that a Russian naval base would be established in an Egyptian port as “illogical,” saying it would “undermine the country’s independence and sovereignty.”
However, according to our sources, planning is already underway for the deployment of some 1,500 Russian military personnel in Egypt to have the new missiles up and running and local personnel trained in their use by mid-2014. A similar number of Russian naval and marine servicemen have been assigned to setting up the naval base, most probably in Alexandria.
We have learned that the visiting Russian ministers and Egypt’s rulers will also discuss permission for Russian warships to dock in Egypt’s Red Sea waters opposite the Saudi coast.
Several thousand Russian military personnel will therefore soon be deployed in Egypt, 42 years after the entire body of Russian “military advisers” was expelled from the country by President Anwar Sadat.
The visit to Egypt by Lavrov and Gen. Shoigu was heralded at the port of Alexandria by the arrival of the Soviet Pacific Fleet flagship, the guided missile cruiser Varyag. Egyptian Navy commanders greeted the ship with unusual honor, including a gun salute. Varyag will remain in the Egyptian port for the duration of the Russian ministers’ stay.
When US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Cairo on Nov. 3, he tried to induce Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to call off the arms deal with Russia by offering to restore in full the $1.3 billion US military aid package which the Obama administration left hanging after the coup which deposed Mohamed Morsi as president in July.
Gen. El-Sisi replied that Cairo does not intend severing its military ties with Washington and would prefer to continue to receive American airplanes and tanks, but will also be glad to take delivery of advanced Russian weapons which the US has withheld from Egypt.