Russia’s Ambassador to Egypt Sergei Kirpichenko, 68, has died suddenly at a Cairo hospital. Kirpichenko was Russia’s envoy to Cairo since 2011 after previously serving in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Libya and Syria.
Relations between the two countries have grown steadily since the general turned President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi rose to power.
Russian President Vladimir Putin supported Al-Sisi’s bid for presidency: “I know you have decided to run for president. This is a very responsible decision, to take upon yourself responsibility for the fate of the Egyptian people.”
“I wish you luck on my own behalf and that of the Russian people.”
Exports to Russia, arms sales from Moscow to Cairo and strategic cooperation have all risen since then.
On a two-day state visit to Egypt in 2015 Putin gave Al-Sisi a Kalashnikov AK-47 rifle and posters of the two leaders adorned the streets.
The Russian leader told Egypt’s state-run paper Al-Ahram that trade had increased by almost 50 per cent in 2014 from 2013 and praised the countries’ bilateral relations.
Al-Sisi told the Russian state-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta that Putin “supports Egypt in matters relating to the fight against terrorism and is aware of the real situation in our country.”
At the end of August this year the Egyptian Air Force signed a $2 billion military agreement to buy 50 MiG-35 warplanes from Russia.
Relations were temporarily strained in October 2015 after a terrorist attack caused a Russian passenger jet with more than 200 people on board to crash in the Sinai Peninsula. Flights resumed last year.
During a trip to Russia in June Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri told Russia Today that Egypt and Russia are working together to achieve stability in the Gulf and in Syria.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has praised Egypt as an “example of stability” in the Middle East thanks to its close ties with the Gulf countries, and reiterated his support for Egypt’s efforts to fight militants in the Sinai Peninsula.
However, local rights activists say that Egypt is ethnically cleansing the Sinai Bedouin under the war on terror.