CAIRO: For the first time, Egypt will participate in joint naval drills with Russia in the Black Sea before the end of 2020, the official Russian news agency TASS reported.
To reach the Black Sea, Egypt’s vessels will pass through Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait. There have been tensions between the two countries since the late Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in 2013.
In the Russian city of Novorossiysk, delegations from the Russian and Egyptian navies “held a three-day conference on preparing and holding the joint exercise Bridge of Friendship —2020,” TASS reported.
During the exercises, the navies, with the support of aircraft, will train to defend sea lanes against various threats.
The exercises will include maneuvers to deploy troops and return supplies at sea, and search suspicious ships.
The navies will conduct training in all types of defense at sea, launching missiles and artillery using shipborne weapons.
TASS reported that the exercises aim to enhance naval cooperation in a way that serves security and stability at sea, and to exchange experience in fighting various threats in busy shipping lanes.
Turkey has said it intends to conduct military drills in the Black Sea on Oct. 13-16. Video footage showed the Turkish military’s transfer of Russian S-400 air defense systems to Samsun province on the Black Sea coast.
Mohamed Soliman, a researcher at the Washington-based Middle East Institute for Political Studies, said this is the first time that Egypt will send military vessels to the Black Sea. He added that this sends a message to Turkey.
This view was echoed by Egyptian military expert Nabil Muharram, who said Cairo wants to send a message that its navy is present to create balance in the region and is ready to defend Egypt’s interests. Muharram added that Egypt’s navy has had strong relations with Russia’s since the 1950s.
Ayman Salama, a member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, said his country’s participation in the drills comes at an important time amid tensions in the Mediterranean due to Turkish efforts to control energy resources.
He added that the strengthening of Egyptian-Russian strategic relations is a source of concern for Ankara, whose relationship with Moscow has deteriorated due to Turkish interventions in Libya and the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.
Moussa Mostafa Moussa, head of Egypt’s Al-Ghad Party and a former presidential candidate, said Russia wants to send a strong message to Ankara against its interference in Kyrgyzstan and the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.