Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has revealed that his country is seeking to establish a naval base in Egypt. He stressed how important this is to Russia but denied that it would be incompatible with the existing American presence in the country.
Lavrov's remarks came in a lengthy interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper. He was asked not only about the naval base but also the possibility of Egypt buying weapons from Russia. "The naval base is certain, and I say it loudly," he replied. "We want to have a presence in the Mediterranean because it is important for Russia to understand what is happening there and to enhance our position." He said that the Syrian port of Tartus will be the fuel base for Russia's Mediterranean Fleet.
The foreign minister denied that the Russians are moving towards Egypt in order to reduce American influence in the region. "The Americans have a huge fleet out there," he pointed out. "Everybody knows that the US has not lost any influence in Cairo, including the Egyptians."
He explained the recent position taken by the coup leaders in Egypt: "They are looking at other options following the US decision to block some military aid, as any other country would."