Egypt and Russia started joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean on Wednesday, it has been announced. The manoeuvres will continue until Sunday.
A spokesman for the Russian fleet in the Black Sea, Captain Vyacheslav Trojachev, told Russian News Agency that ships from both navies left the port of Alexandria on Wednesday morning. Over the next few days, he added, they will carry out defence and anti-aircraft drills along with search and rescue exercises. Russian vessels taking part include the guided missile cruiser Moskva, a sailing barge and an oil tanker for refuelling at sea. The Egyptian navy has deployed two frigates and two cruisers as well as its own tanker for supplies.
The naval exercise, codenamed “Friendship Bridge 2015”, is the first joint military exercise between the two countries. Since Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took office as president in May last year, Russia and Egypt have stepped up their cooperation, especially in the technical-military field. In February, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid his first visit to Egypt in ten years.
Russia has been isolated internationally since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis. It believes that Egypt is an outlet for promoting its influence, especially now that relations between Washington and Cairo are strained following the Egyptian governments’ suppression of its political opponents.