In the wake of President Barack Obama’s decision to cut hundreds of millions in U.S. defense funding for Egypt, Moscow is putting together its largest weapons deal with Cairo since the Cold War, Buzzfeed reported Thursday
The Russian and Egyptian foreign and defense ministers met Thursday in the Egyptian capital — holding their highest-level meetings in many years.
Egypt wants to buy more than $2 billion worth of Russian weapons, according to Buzzfeed.
Pentagon officials said the huge purchase, which will likely include air defense systems, anti-tank missiles, and MiG-29 fighter planes, indicates that Cairo is looking to move away from its longstanding reliance on U.S. weapons systems.
"This has moved past being posturing and a threat. This is Egypt sending a very clear message to the U.S. that they don’t want to be dependent on us anymore and can seek allies elsewhere,” a Persian Gulf-based U.S. diplomat told Buzzfeed. “This is the kind of thing that should raise the alarm bells.”
Egyptian military officials were said to be angered by Obama’s decision to slash military aid in the wake of President Mohammed Morsi’s ouster in July and the widespread violence that followed.
Egypt’s state TV channels have attacked Washington, accusing it of backing Morsi and his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The view in Egypt now is that the U.S. might not be the type of ally we can continue to rely on, and that it would be best of Egypt to seek allies elsewhere,” an Egyptian Foreign Ministry official said.
Buzzfeed cited an interview Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy gave Saturday to AFP, in which he said Cairo would expand cooperation with Russia.
“Independence is having choices. So the objective of this foreign policy is to provide Egypt with choices, more choices. So, I’m not going to substitute. I’m going to add,” Fahmy said.
Moscow is also sending the flagship vessel Varyag on a six-day visit to Alexandria, the Christian Science Monitor reported Thursday
. The Varyag will be the first Russian warship to visit Egypt in more than two decades.
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