EGYPT, RUSSIA HOLD JOINT NAVAL TRAINING TO BOOST MILITARY COOPERATION

CAIRO, Egypt, June 7 – Russian naval units arrived in Egypt’s seaside Alexandria Marine Base, to take part in a joint naval training between the two countries, the Egyptian military spokesman said in a statement.

“Friendship Bridge 2015, is one of the strongest and biggest joint exercises between Egypt and Russia,” said military spokesman, Brigadier-General Mohamed Samir, adding that, the training “comes in light of the high-level bilateral talks pertaining to military and security cooperation and exchange of expertise between the armed forces of the two countries.”

He added that the joint naval exercise, which kicked off on Saturday and lasts for eight days, asserts “the strategic and military cooperation” between Egypt and Russia.

Meanwhile, the Russian Defence Ministry, said that, the goals of the exercise include “the strengthening and development of the military cooperation” between the two nations’ navies, in favour of security and stability at sea.

Exchange of experience in repelling sea threats, planning and coordination of joint efforts for reaction to the modern challenges in the areas of intensive navigation, are among the goals of the joint training, according to Russia’s Defence Ministry.

It stated that, “the exercise will involve the Moskova Guards missile cruiser with a Ka-27 helicopter onboard, the Samum missile hovercraft, the Alexander Shabalin major landing ship, the Ivan Bubnov tanker and MB-31 sea tug boat from the Russian Navy,” noting that they all arrived at Alexandria, but the major landing ship will arrive later at the training area.

Egypt and Russia have been cultivating ties since President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi came to office in mid-2014, with exchanged visits between leaders of the two countries.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, received a warm welcome as he visited Egypt in Feb and held talks with Sisi on cooperation in various fields.

The two leaders suffered Western criticism over the past couple of years, Sisi over the ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and Putin over the Ukrainian crisis.

Sisi has been working hard on fixing ties with the West and has recently wrapped up a tour in Europe that took him to Germany and Hungary.

The United States stopped its annual 1.3 billion U.S. dollars military aid to Egypt, following Morsi’s ouster, but it decided earlier this year to resume it, after a breakthrough in the relations between Washington and Cairo.

On the other hand, Putin has been approaching Asian, African and Latin American countries, since Western powers imposed sanctions on Moscow last year, over the Ukrainian issue.

SOURCE: MENA