Russia and Egypt just got even closer

Vladimir putin fattah al sisi egypt russiaREUTERS/Alexei DruzhininRussia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attend a welcoming ceremony onboard guided missile cruiser Moskva at the Black Sea port of Sochi, August 12, 2014.

Russia and Egypt are taking a major step forward in their relationship.

Speaking beside Egyptian Defence Minister Sidqi Sobqi in Moscow, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the two nations were planning on expanding their cooperation in military affairs, The Moscow Times reports.

“This document will for many years determine the direction of our cooperation in the military sphere,” Shoigu said. He added that it was time to begin to fill the agreement with “concrete content.”

The two countries will hold a joint naval drill in the Mediterranean, and select Egyptian soldiers and officers will be trained in Russian military academies.

“Naturally, in focus will be issues of training Egyptian servicemen at Russian higher education establishments of the Russian defence ministry and a number of other matters of mutual interest,” Shoigu said, according to Tass.

The announcement comes as relations between Egypt and the US have cooled during the rule of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Close allies for decades, the relationship has suffered following Sisi’s ouster of the democratically elected government led my Mohammed Morsi.

The strain in relations has affected the cooperation between the US and Egyptian militaries. The two governments are now seen as carrying out military operations against ISIS in parallel — Egypt targeting the group in Libya while the US-led coalition bombing the group in Syria and Iraq — with neither government offering to help the other.

“The Egyptian military, in particular, is very frustrated with us,” an unnamed US government official told The Daily Beast recently. “It is mutual frustration.”

Putin egyptREUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/KremlinRussia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a meeting in Cairo February 10, 2015.

Meanwhile, Moscow’s relations with Cairo have steadily improved since Sisi came to power. The two countries signed a $US3.5 billion arms deal in 2014, and Putin had a fruitful visit to the country in February.

“It is important, bearing in mind the history of relations between our countries and the recent meeting between our leaders,” Egyptian Defence Minister Sobqi said. “It is necessary to develop everything we have been doing together. It is important for our countries.”

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