Cairo: For the first time, Egypt will participate in joint naval exercises with Russia in the Black Sea before the end of 2020, the Russian news agency TASS reported.
To reach the Black Sea, Egyptian ships will cross the Bosphorus in Turkey. The two countries have known tensions since the ouster of the late Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
According to TASS, in the Russian city of Novorossiysk, delegations from the Russian and Egyptian navies held a “three-day conference on preparing and conducting the Joint Friendship Bridge exercise -2020”.
During the exercises, the Marines, with the support of aircraft, will train to defend sea lanes against various threats. The exercises will include exercises to deploy forces, return supplies to the sea, and search suspected ships. The Marine Corps will provide training in all types of defense at sea, launching missiles and artillery using the weapons on board.
Tass said that the exercises aim to strengthen maritime cooperation in a way that serves security and stability at sea, and to exchange experiences in combating various threats to crowded shipping lanes.
Turkey announced its intention to hold military exercises in the Black Sea from 13 to 16 October. Video footage showed the Turkish army transporting the Russian S-400 air defense systems to the Samsun Province on the Black Sea coast.
This is the first time that Egypt has sent military ships to the Black Sea, said Mohamed Soliman, a researcher at the Washington-based Institute for Middle East Policy Studies. He added that this sends a message to Turkey.
The Egyptian military expert, Nabil Muharram, echoed this view, saying that Cairo wanted to send a message that its naval forces exist to create balance in the region and are ready to defend Egypt’s interests. Muharram added that the Egyptian Navy has had close ties with Russia since the 1950s.
Ayman Salama, a member of the Egyptian Foreign Council, said that his country’s participation in the exercises comes at an important time amid tensions in the Mediterranean over Turkey’s efforts to control energy resources. He added that strengthening the Egyptian-Russian strategic relations is a source of concern for Ankara, whose relations with Moscow have deteriorated due to the Turkish interventions in Libya and the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.
Musa Mustafa Moussa, the leader of the Egyptian Al-Ghad Party and a former presidential candidate, said that Russia wants to send a strong message to Ankara against its interference in Kyrgyzstan and in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.