The Kremlin's Campaign in Egypt
This baseline assessment is part of a series from the Institute for the Study of War on Russia’s global campaigns.
Key Takeaway: The Kremlin has successfully expanded its influence in Egypt – a historic partner of the U.S. and the West. Russia has secured approval to establish an industrial zone in Port Said; concluded major energy deals, including the construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant; increased weapons sales; and obtained Egypt’s diplomatic backing on a number of regional initiatives. The Kremlin is likely attempting to secure a naval base in Egypt in order to expand its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and contest U.S. freedom of maneuver through the Suez Canal. Russia cannot compete in the long-term with the U.S., which provides nearly $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt. The Kremlin will therefore focus on offering to support Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in areas of core concern for his constituencies, such as security, food, and energy. Russian activity in Egypt is part of the Kremlin’s regional campaign to expand its influence in the Middle East and Africa. The U.S. must use its leverage with Egypt not only to sustain its partnership with a key regional actor and guarantee its freedom of maneuver in the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal, but also to curb Sisi’s continued use of oppressive measures against his own population.
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