Egypt wanted to arm Russia with thousands of rockets in secret ‘to avoid problems with West’, report claims

Leak shows Egypt wanted to send 40,000 rockets to Russia

Arpan Rai
Tuesday 11 April 2023 14:13 BST
<p>Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov (right) and his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry enter a hall during their meeting in Moscow </p>

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov (right) and his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry enter a hall during their meeting in Moscow

Egypt’s president Abdel Fatah El-Sisi had allegedly ordered 40,000 rockets to be discreetly shipped to Russia, showed some of the classified US intelligence documents that were recently leaked on social media.

Discussions between high-level Egyptian officials about the sale of weapons to Russia were found in the series of classified files, reported The Washington Post.

The leaked documents made their way to gaming social media platform Discord in February and March.

The Egyptian president had ordered his subordinates to facilitate the shipment of the rockets to Russia, but asked officials to secretly handle the production and shipment to “avoid problems with the West”, as per one of the documents dated 17 February.

The discussions between Egyptian officials show how to aid Russian counterparts by supplying gunpowder and artillery from factories in Egypt, the report said.

Egypt has been one of the US's oldest allies in the Middle East.

On being asked about the veracity of the documents, Ahmed Abu Zeid, spokesperson for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, said: “Egypt’s position from the beginning is based on noninvolvement in this crisis and committing to maintain equal distance with both sides, while affirming Egypt’s support to the UN charter and international law in the UN General Assembly resolutions”.

“We are not aware of any execution of that plan,” a US government official who wished to remain anonymous, told the Post. “We have not seen that happen,” he said of the rocket export plan.

The tranche of documents showed the plan to aid Moscow would have been secret and an official was instructed by the Egpytian president to tell the workers that the rockets were meant for the Egyptian army.

The official is described only as Salah al-Din and is likely a reference to the minister of state for military production, Mohamed Salah al-Din, said the Post report.

Russia would get the gunpowder from a decades-old chemical manufacturing plant called Factory 18, it said.

The official also said he would order his workers to work in shifts if necessary, as the Middle Eastern nation looked to repay Russia for “unspecified help earlier”, said the documents.

They do not specify the Russian assistance, but said the minister was told by Russians that they were willing to “buy anything”.

The latest leak from the US has been termed seriously damaging, with several of Washington’s significant military plans being circulated in the public domain through social media platforms like Discord, Telegram and Twitter among others.

It is likely that the major leak of classified information, that also details Ukraine’s air defences and growing proximity between UAE and Russia, may have started in a chatroom on Discord, the social media platform popular among gamers.

The US Justice Department has opened an investigation into the leak of the documents.

US officials have warned that some of the documents may have been altered or used as part of a misinformation campaign. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby has urged caution “since we know at least in some cases that information was doctored”.

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