MOSCOW Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday threw his weight behind the presidential bid by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday threw his weight behind the presidential bid by Egyptian Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s bid, wishing him “luck”, before the Egyptian elections have even been announced’s bid, wishing him “luck”, before the Egyptian elections have even been announced.
Meeting with Egyptian authorities in Moscow, Putin told Sisi, “I know that you have decided to run for president of Egypt. This is a very responsible decision, to take upon yourself responsibility for the fate of the Egyptian people.”
Sisi has not officially announced his candidacy for the presidency. His visit to Moscow is another sign that such an announcement is imminent.
His meeting with Russian officials is aimed at finalizing a $2 billion arms agreement between Egypt and Russia. “Our visit offers a new start to the development of military and technological co-operation between Egypt and Russia. We hope to speed up this co-operation,” Sisi remarked at the meeting.
Washington’s criticism of then General Sisi’s decision last July to oust Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi, and of the subsequent shooting dead of hundreds of protesters, has enraged the military and its supporters.
Russian media has indicated that the two sides are negotiating $2 billion (pounds 1.2 billion) deal in arms sales, including the S-300 air defence system.
The deal has been discussed for some months now without any firm commitment, and would have to be paid for out of the billions of dollars currently being supplied to keep the Egyptian government solvent by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both of which strongly backed Gen Sisi’s coup.
Nabil Fahmy, the Egyptian foreign minister, who is accompanying Field Marshal Sisi on his trip to Moscow, has insisted that Egypt is just “broadening” its diplomatic scope.
The Egyptian rapprochement with Russia does make clear the very differing approaches to the “Arab Spring” taken by Moscow and Washington.
Putin has all along seen it as a threat – both to the autocratic rule pursued by many key Russian allies and, increasingly, within Russia itself, and as an opportunity for the strengthening of militant Islamist movements, reports The Telegraph.
“A stable situation in the whole of the Middle East largely depends on stability in Egypt,” Putin told Sisi. “I am convinced that you with your vast experience will be able to both mobilise your supporters and normalise relations with all sections of Egyptian society.”
Most Egyptians expect Field Marshal Sisi to stand for the presidency and win, bolstered by an unstoppable tide of support in the state-backed media and privately-owned television stations, and by street campaigns mounted by pro-military activists. These have also mobilised remnants of the Mubarak regime, who had previously languished in disgrace since the revolution of 2011, reports The Telegraph.
However, it is unusual for a candidate to be so publicly backed by a foreign country, particularly when he has not even announced his candidature.
Sisi and Nabil Fahmy also held separate talks with Sergei Shoigu and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian defence and foreign ministers.
“We are closely watching the situation in your country. We are interested in Egypt being a strong and stable country,” Shoigu said in his opening remarks at the meeting with Sisi, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.
“In the current situation, it is good to adopt a new Egyptian Constitution in a national referendum We believe your efforts to establish stability in the country are being effective.”
Shoigu also said Moscow supported Cairo’s efforts to “fight against terrorism”.
“In this regard, we will discuss in some important issues of military and military-technical cooperation, the terms of that and future prospects We are interested in the development of such cooperation. Cooperation between our countries has deep historical roots,” he said.