By Tim Nanns
The exercise, dubbed ‘Friendship Bridge – 2015’, lasted from 6 to 14 June and was considered a success according to a Defence Ministry statement, hailing the “great accuracy and achievement of its objectives”.
Rear Admiral Osama Mounir, only recently appointed Chief of the Navy, claimed that the exercise was not “directed against any particular country but rather to establish peace and security in the region” and showed eagerness to repeat the common exercises regularly.
The Russian side, represented by Vice Admiral Alexander Fedotenkov, announced that “the coming days will witness more cooperation”.
“In the future we will plan such international exercises with participation of the Egyptian Navy and other countries,” he said. The exercise was observed by representatives from the UAE, as well as from Greece.
Egyptian-Russian relations have become increasingly important since President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took over as president. Joint military exercises usually highlight certain closeness between the participants. In fact, the two countries signed a protocol on military cooperation earlier this year.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, one of the largest helicopter manufacturers in the world, ‘Russian Helicopters’, announced it was aiming to “work with Egypt to expand its helicopter fleet for the civilian market”, citing the scheduled opening of a service centre for Mi-8/17 helicopters in 2017 in Egypt as an example of the deepening cooperation.
The Mi-8/17 is operated as a military as well as a civilian helicopter, and constitutes a major component of the Egyptian Air Force’s helicopter fleet.
After the Camp David Accords, Egypt became increasingly prominent in the Arab world but was granted massive US military aid, alienating its traditional ally and weapon supplier, the Soviet Union. But while Egypt-US relations grew increasingly frosty after the ouster of Mohammed Morsi, which the US considers a coup, Al-Sisi deepened relations with Russia, which did not express serious concerns about possible human rights violations.
Despite the fact that the US resumed weapon deliveries to Egypt, reasoning with its indispensable role in fighting terror in the region, Egyptian-Russian relations are still at an all-time high with Dr Gamal Sultan, analyst at the Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies, describing Al-Sisi’s policies previously to Daily News Egypt as reminiscent of the early Nasser era.