USSR2/Middle East Files: France sells Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Egypt for €950 million after Russia deal falls through in wake of Ukraine invasion, never-deployed warships to be delivered to Egyptian Navy (world’s 7th most powerful) in March-April 2016; HOWEVER Kremlin-run Russian Helicopters cuts US$1 billion deal with new/old “strategic partner” Egypt to equip Mistrals with Kamov Ka-52K combat helos, Russian-designed flight guidance system for “Alligators” to remain on board; French PM Valls in Cairo to sign Mistral deal with General/President Sisi on Oct. 10, follows previous deals to purchase 24 French-built Dassault Rafale fighter jets, Hammer air-to-ground missiles for Egyptian Air Force, 4 Gowind corvettes for Egyptian Navy; Sisi paid state visit to Russia (Sochi) in Aug. 2014, after Putin’s forces grabbed Crimea, Putin returned favor by showing up in Egypt in Feb. 2015 to promote economic, military coop, Russian, Egyptian navies held 8-day joint drill off Alexandria in June, Reuters: “Putin has been cultivating ties with Egypt, a Soviet ally for much of the Cold War and traditional export market for Russian arms”
October 20, 2015
Posted by on
source 1 source 2 source 3 source 4 source 5 source 6
The French-Egypt Mistral warship deal is fishy (pun intended). Although the Egyptian Navy is the seventh most powerful in the world and the most powerful in Africa and the Middle East, it’s hard to understand why the quasi-military regime in Cairo would want these vessels, which aren’t cheap, unless it intends to attack its neighbors, like Israel, with which it is technically at peace.
On the other hand, we must consider another angle. Is it possible the Kremlin is using new/old strategic partner Egypt to surreptitiously prepare the Mistral warships for the Russian Navy after all, and then use them to launch an amphibious assault on Syria in support of the embattled Assad regime? The Egyptian Navy HQ at Alexandria isn’t located too far away from Russia’s naval maintenance base in Tartus, Syria.
The scheduled arrival of the Mistrals in Egypt next spring bears scrutiny, especially if the Ba’athist regime in Latakia/Damascus is still clinging to power and in need of still more Russian military intervention. The Kremlin has already used the Russian Navy (from the Caspian Sea) to attack Syrian rebels and indicated that it will use its Mediterranean task force do so as well.
Perhaps Sisi will suddently discover that he’s bit off more than he can chew with this large expenditure and offer to resell the Mistrals to Russia (if the fine print with Paris permits). We must remember, too, that the neo-Leninists in Moscow are masters of maskirovka (deception).