Elliot Abrams, analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the arms deal between Egypt and Russia is a “symbolic message”.
In an interview with the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Abrams said the deal primarily aims at giving a message that Egypt does not depend 100% on the US.
Russian president Vladimir Putin is trying to appear influential in the Middle East region. “Comparing this deal with the USD 60 billion US deals with the gulf, it is clear that the Russian deal and influence in the region are very minimal,” Abrams said.
Abrams, who served as deputy national security advisor in the Bush administration, added: “All this sounds meaningless for a number of reasons. Firstly, delivering Russian military equipment will be a difficult and costly process, and will constitute a huge pressure on the Egyptian army. Secondly, who will pay for the cost of this deal? And thirdly, how would Egyptians feel towards an arms deal which aims at emphasizing continued military support irrespective of the ongoing repression in Egypt?”
Russian newspaper Vedomosti reported Friday that Egypt and Russia had already initialed a $3 billion arms deal to purchase Russian military equipment, including MiG-29M/M2 fighters, air and coastal defense systems, Mi-35 helicopters, and other smaller weapons.