Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning a possible state visit to Egypt in order to take advantage of frayed ties between Washington and Cairo and possibly gain access to Egypt’s Mediterranean ports, The Sunday Times reported.
The United States announced October 9 that it had decided to “hold the delivery of certain large-scale military systems and cash assistance to the [Egyptian] government pending credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections.”
The US move came days after 57 people were killed in clashes in Egypt amid the crackdown by security forces on supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
According to the Times, Putin is seeking to resume military ties with Egypt in light of the vacuum created by Washington’s decision and fears of a return to the Cold War era rivalry in the region.
Among Russia’s motivations, the Times suggests, is access to Egypt’s Mediterranean ports. Russia’s current point of access to the Mediterranean is the Syrian port of Tartus, which could be in jeopardy if Russian ally Bashar Assad’s regime falls.
“Tartus is vulnerable and not good enough and the Egyptian ports are perfect for the Russian navy,” the Times quoted an Israeli defense source as saying.
The Times reported that Putin is also seeking to fill the void left by the US withdrawal from Iraq and strained ties between Washington and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
“The US is in retreat all over the Middle East: Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. And the Russians are stepping in and intend to stay,” the Times quoted an Israeli security source as saying.
Source : jpost