Skip to main content

Egypt, Russia to hold joint naval drills in Black Sea, Moscow says

Exercise Friendship Bridge 2020 will involve aircraft and ship-based artillery, Russia's Defense Ministry said

Russia and Egypt will conduct a joint naval exercise in the Black Sea for the first time, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced Thursday.

An Egyptian navy delegation discussed the planned exercise with Russian navy officials during a three-day visit this week during to Novorossiysk, which is on the Black Sea. The two navies will be accompanied by aircraft and will “work out joint tasks to protect sea routes from various threats,” according to a statement by the Russian Defense Ministry.

The exercise will be under joint command and include rocket and artillery fire from participating ships, the statement said. The drills will also include simulated inspections of "suspicious vessels."

The exercise, dubbed “Friendship Bridge 2020,” will be the first ever joint naval drill between the two countries in the Black Sea. Representatives of Egypt’s foreign and defense ministries did not return requests for comment.

Why it matters: Russia is seeking to position itself as a more favorable partner to Middle Eastern countries than the United States, and sees opportunity in Egypt.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's 2013 coup in Cairo brought about a renewal of Egypt's military relations with Moscow. The two countries held their first joint naval exercise in 2015 on the Mediterranean.

Additionally, Russia’s forcible annexation of Crimea in 2014 helped to position Moscow as an even more powerful player in the Black Sea — a strategic frontier with NATO that offers access to natural gas reserves and greater influence over Russia’s eastern European neighbors.

It also extended Russia's radar and air defense ranges, and prompted increased US naval activity in the Black Sea.

The annual US-led multinational Sea Breeze exercise wrapped up on the Black Sea in July. That event brought together 27 ships and 19 aircraft from the United States, Ukraine, Romania, Turkey, Bulgaria, Georgia, Spain and Norway.

What’s next: Russia’s Defense Ministry has not yet announced a start date for the exercises. A spokesperson for the US Navy’s 6th Fleet was not immediately available for comment.

Know more: Russia has other concerns on its Caspian-Black Sea axis at the moment. Its relations with Armenia are being tested as Turkey has come firmly to the aid of Azerbaijan amid the war over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Ankara is seeking to cement its own place in the Caucasus, Fehim Tastekin writes, and its deployment of Syrian Islamist militants has caught Moscow’s attention.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

The Middle East in your inbox Insights in your inbox.

Deepen your knowledge of the Middle East

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial