Feb 14 2014
Here’s the real ‘reset’ button in relations with Russia…and Obama’s fingerprints are nowhere near it
While Obama continues to call for the reinstatement of the ousted Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, Vladimir Putin is offering his full support for the wildly popular Egyptian Field Marshall and Defense Minister, General el-Sisi for president.
Arab News (h/t Menis) Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday endorsed Egyptian Army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s undeclared bid to head the strife-torn North African nation as the two leaders negotiated a massive Moscow weapons deal.
El-Sisi came to Moscow with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy for talks aimed at securing Russian assistance — stagnant since the late Soviet era — that could replace subsiding support from Cairo’s more recent ally Washington.
Putin told El-Sisi that he fully backed Egypt’s new constitution and crucially made no mention of Cairo’s crackdown on protests or the army-backed overthrow in July of President Muhammad Morsi.
“I know that you, mister defense minister, have decided to run for president of Egypt,” Putin told El-Sisi in televised remarks. “I wish you luck both from myself personally and from the Russian people.” The 59-year-old Egyptian field marshal has not officially declared his presidential ambitions but is overwhelmingly expected to run in elections likely to be held before the end of April.
El-Sisi and Fahmy had earlier on Thursday met their Russian counterparts to negotiate a $2-billion arms deal the two sides initially discussed in Cairo in November — a month after Washington suspended millions of dollars in assistance to the Egyptian Army over Morsi’s ouster.
“Our visit offers a new start to the development of military and technological cooperation between Egypt and Russia,” El-Sisi told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The head of Russia’s state industrial holding company had said after the Cairo meeting that Moscow was on the verge of reaching a landmark agreement to deliver air defense systems to Egypt’s army. Moscow’s authoritative Vedomosti business daily on November 15 said the deals under discussion were worth more than $2 billion and could be financed by Saudi Arabia.
The Soviet Union was the main supplier of arms to Egypt in the 1960s and early 1970s. Russia is now keen to revive those ties and Shoigu made clear on Thursday that Moscow fully supported the tough measures taken by Sisi against Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement. “We cannot but celebrate the adoption of the new Egyptian constitution,” the Russian defense minister told Sisi. (Unlike Barack Obama)