MOSCOW: Russia has approved a draft agreement with Egypt for Russian warplanes to use Egyptian military bases, according to a document released Thursday, a deal that would allow Moscow to further increase its military footprint in the Mideast.
The directive, signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and published on the official portal of legal information, endorses the draft prepared by the Russian Defense Ministry and instructs it to sign the deal with Egypt when it is ready.
The Russia-Egypt deal, which would allow each country’s warplanes to use air bases of the other, is to last five years and could be extended further if agreed.
For Egypt, the deal is significant as President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s government has expanded military ties with Russia and signed deals to buy Russian fighter jets, helicopters and other weapons.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Cairo on Wednesday, noting that military cooperation between the two countries has increased recently as Egypt placed new orders for Russian weapons.
“We are pleased to note stable positive dynamics in the military-technical sphere,” Shoigu was quoted as saying during meeting of an inter-government commission on military-technical cooperation.
He also offered condolences for the massacre at a village mosque in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula last week that killed 311 people during Friday prayers — the deadliest attack by extremists in Egypt’s modern history.
Shoigu emphasized the need to strengthen cooperation in fighting terrorism.
“We believe that it’s necessary to fight this evil together using all accessible means,” he said.
The local affiliate of Daesh has not formally claimed responsibility for the mosque attack, though the gunmen that mowed down the worshippers carried the black banner of the militant group. The Daesh affiliate has claimed responsibility for the October 2015 downing over Sinai of a Russian passenger jet that killed all 224 people on board, mostly Russian tourists. Read More …