Cairo turns to Moscow for help against Sinai-based terror groups

by WorldTribune Staff, October 12, 2016

Russian airborne troops will hold joint military drills with Egyptian forces this month, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

“The joint Russian-Egyptian drills will happen in mid-October 2016 on the territory of Egypt,” the ministry said on Oct. 11.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Egyptian President Abdul Fatah Sisi. /AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin with Egyptian President Abdul Fatah Sisi. / AP

“The airborne delivery by parachute of several Russian airborne troops’ сombat vehicles to the desert climate of Egypt will occur for the first time in history.”

The drills, called “Protectors of Friendship-2016”, will include 500 troops, 15 planes and helicopters and 10 military hardware units, the ministry said.

Some analysts believe the drills are preparation for an anti-terrorist operation “in a desert environment”.

Vladimir Isayev, a professor at the Institute of Asia and Africa at Moscow State University, said Egypt is seeking Moscow’s support against terrorist organizations operating in Sinai because Cairo can no longer rely on the United States.

Egypt recently purchased Mistral helicopter carriers from France with pre-installed Russian equipment, which were originally destined for the Russian army, retired Col. Viktor Murakhovsky said, adding that Moscow is demonstrating its ability to form expeditionary groups at short notice and transfer them to the desired area.

“It’s worth considering the proximity of Egypt and Syria,” Murakhovsky said. “Russia shows that, if necessary, it will be able to deploy a sufficient number of its troops, which are part of the reserve of the Supreme Command and belong to rapid-response forces.”

Last year Russia and Egypt held their first-ever joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean, which included the Black Sea fleet’s flagship Moskva missile cruiser.