Russia sealed a $2 billion fighter jet deal with Egypt.
According to RT, the Arab Republic will purchase “more than 20 Russian Su-35 multi-role air-defense fighters and air-launched weapons”, which continues the recent trend of Russia and Egypt working to restore their Soviet-era strategic relations. President Sisi, who came to power after deposing his Muslim Brotherhood-backed predecessor Morsi in a 2013 coup, is a military man through and through and therefore appreciates the high quality of equipment that Russia will provide his country. This isn’t the first large-scale deal between the two and it certainly won’t be the last, as the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute – popularly known by its acronym as SIPRI – released a recent report on the global arms trade proving that Russia was Egypt’s second-largest weapons supplier during the five-year period from 2014-2018 at 30% of total imports, just behind France’s 37% and well ahead of the US’ 19%.
This data confirms the success of Russia’s “military diplomacy”, which is its use of arms sales as a method of expanding its strategic influence. In the Egyptian example, deals between the two took off after Sisi solidified his leadership and sought to diversify his country’s erstwhile military dependence on the US in parallel with seeking out a third reliable partnership to complement the ones that his country already has with America and most recently his Gulf financial patrons. What Russia gets out of this arrangement is an opportunity to more vigorously tap into the growing Egyptian marketplace – the largest one in the Arab World – and the right to construct an industrial zone in the Sinai Peninsula, to say nothing of the possibility of strengthening its partnership with this North African country whose offshore Mediterranean gas reserves are poised to see more Russian investment.
Speaking of the Sinai and gas reserves, those are actually two of the main reasons why Egypt wants Russian fighter jets in the first place. The Su-35s proved their worth wiping out terrorists in Syria, which obviously makes them very attractive assets for aiding Egypt’s anti-terrorist operations in the Sinai, but also in protecting its porous borders with Libya and Sudan from the worst-case scenario of Daesh or a similar entity trying to storm across and recreate a so-called “caliphate”. Concerning energy security, it’s more cost-effective for Egypt to protect its offshore gas reserves with airpower that could also be wielded in other domains such as the anti-terrorist one than to invest unnecessary funds in modernizing its fleet. All told, the $2 billion Su-35 deal will therefore go a long way towards enhancing Egypt’s strategic security in parallel with expanding Russia’s influence in North Africa.
By Andrew Korybko
Source: Oriental Review