Egypt to conduct naval drills with Russia in Black Sea

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi listen to explanations during their visit to the Black Sea Fleet’s guided missile cruiser Moskva in the seaport of Sochi, Russia. (AFP)
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Russian servicemen take part in military exercises at the Kapustin Yar range in Astrakhan region, Southern Russia on September 25, 2020 during the "Caucasus-2020" military drills gathering China, Iran, Pakistan and Myanmar troops, along with ex-Soviet Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. (AFP)
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Updated 11 October 2020

Egypt to conduct naval drills with Russia in Black Sea

  • Analysts see the move as a message to Turkey against its regional interventions

CAIRO: For the first time, Egypt will participate in joint naval drills with Russia in the Black Sea before the end of 2020, the official Russian news agency TASS reported.

To reach the Black Sea, Egypt’s vessels will pass through Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait. There have been tensions between the two countries since the late Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in 2013.

In the Russian city of Novorossiysk, delegations from the Russian and Egyptian navies “held a three-day conference on preparing and holding the joint exercise Bridge of Friendship —2020,” TASS reported.

During the exercises, the navies, with the support of aircraft, will train to defend sea lanes against various threats.

The exercises will include maneuvers to deploy troops and return supplies at sea, and search suspicious ships.

The navies will conduct training in all types of defense at sea, launching missiles and artillery using shipborne weapons.

FASTFACTS

• There have been tensions between Egypt and Turkey since the late Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in 2013.

• The strengthening of Egyptian-Russian ties is a source of concern for Ankara, whose relationship with Moscow has deteriorated.

TASS reported that the exercises aim to enhance naval cooperation in a way that serves security and stability at sea, and to exchange experience in fighting various threats in busy shipping lanes.

Turkey has said it intends to conduct military drills in the Black Sea on Oct. 13-16. Video footage showed the Turkish military’s transfer of Russian S-400 air defense systems to Samsun province on the Black Sea coast.

Mohamed Soliman, a researcher at the Washington-based Middle East Institute for Political Studies, said this is the first time that Egypt will send military vessels to the Black Sea. He added that this sends a message to Turkey.

This view was echoed by Egyptian military expert Nabil Muharram, who said Cairo wants to send a message that its navy is present to create balance in the region and is ready to defend Egypt’s interests. Muharram added that Egypt’s navy has had strong relations with Russia’s since the 1950s.

Ayman Salama, a member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, said his country’s participation in the drills comes at an important time amid tensions in the Mediterranean due to Turkish efforts to control energy resources.

He added that the strengthening of Egyptian-Russian strategic relations is a source of concern for Ankara, whose relationship with Moscow has deteriorated due to Turkish interventions in Libya and the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

Moussa Mostafa Moussa, head of Egypt’s Al-Ghad Party and a former presidential candidate, said Russia wants to send a strong message to Ankara against its interference in Kyrgyzstan and the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

 


Turkey irked over joint declaration by Cyprus, Greece and Egypt

Updated 23 October 2020

Turkey irked over joint declaration by Cyprus, Greece and Egypt

  • The joint statement also asked Turkey to accept Cyprus’ invitation to enter negotiations for an agreement on maritime delimitations

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday slammed a joint statement by Greece, Cyprus and Egypt that condemns Turkish energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and numerous “provocations” that they maintain are threatening regional peace.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “fully rejected the declaration containing baseless accusations and allegations.”
During a trilateral regional summit on Wednesday in Nicosia, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged Ankara to end its “aggressive” actions.
The joint statement also asked Turkey to accept Cyprus’ invitation to enter negotiations for an agreement on maritime delimitations. Greece and Cyprus have signed maritime border agreements with Egypt while dismissing a similar deal that Ankara signed with Libya’s Tripoli-based government as “legally invalid.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the declaration attacked Ankara rather than supporting peace and stability in the region. It repeated Turkey’s position that cooperation could only take place with the inclusion of Turkish Cypriots in governing and sharing the resources of the ethnically divided island nation.
“We will continue with determination to protect our rights and the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the eastern Mediterranean,” the ministry statement said.
The trilateral summit took place amid high tensions between nominal NATO allies Greece and Turkey over maritime borders and energy rights.
In late summer, Turkey dispatched a research vessel escorted by warships to conduct seismic research in a part of the Mediterranean Sea that Greece claims as its territory, which prompted the Greek government to deploy its own warships.
Turkey pulled the research ship back to shore for several weeks for maintenance and to allow time for diplomacy but redeployed the Oruc Reis on a new energy exploration mission. A maritime announcement by Turkey says the Oruc Reis and two other ships would continue working in the area until Oct. 27.
Turkey also has had ships prospecting for oil and gas reserves in waters that Cyprus claims as its exclusive economic zone.