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Egypt denies report it planned to produce 40,000 rockets for Russia

Moscow has also denied the claims that President Sisi ordered the military to secretly ship the rockets to Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (R) listen to explanations during their visit to the Black Sea Fleet's guards missile cruiser Moskva in the sea port of Sochi on August 12, 2014 during the Egyptian leader's first official visit to Russia. AFP PHOTO / RIA NOVOSTI / KREMLIN POOL / ALEXEI DRUZHININ (Photo by ALEXEI DRUZHININ / RIA NOVOSTI / AFP) (Photo by ALEXEI DRUZHININ/RIA NOVOSTI/AFP via Getty Images)

An Egyptian official rejected a report on Tuesday that Egypt had planned to produce tens of thousands of rockets to be secretly supplied to Russia as it wages a war in Ukraine.

On Monday, The Washington Post reported a leaked US intelligence document claiming that Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi instructed his military to produce up to 40,000 rockets to be shipped secretly to Russia, which is pressing on with its invasion of Ukraine, now in its second year. According to the report, the document dated Feb. 17, "summarizes purported conversations between Sisi and senior Egyptian military officials and also references plans to supply Russia with artillery rounds and gunpowder."

In the document, Sisi reportedly instructs his officials to keep the production and shipment of the rockets secret “to avoid problems with the West.”

Speaking to the local Al-Qahera News channel on Monday, the Egyptian source, which was not identified, said the information reported in The Washington Post is "baseless and unfounded," stressing that "Egypt adopts a balanced policy with all countries to preserve peace and stability."

Egypt has avoided taking sides in the war pitting Russia against Ukraine, as the North African country tried to secure its interests with both Moscow and Kyiv. 

While Egypt was among the 141 nations that voted in favor of a resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine during a UN General Assembly session last year, it has rejected the economic sanctions imposed by the West on Moscow.

Russia's state-owned atomic energy company ROSATOM is currently building Egypt's first nuclear power plant in Dabaa, 300 kilometers (186 miles) northwest of Cairo. 

Also, the Russian Central Bank added in January the Egyptian pound to its official exchange rate list. 

Meanwhile, Egypt was significantly impacted by the disruption of global wheat supplies due to Russia's war on Ukraine.

According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, Egypt became the world’s largest importer of wheat in 2021, with imports reaching $4.53 billion that year. The Egyptian government mainly imported its wheat needs from Russia and Ukraine. Since the war, Cairo has sought to secure alternative wheat supplies, turning mainly to India.

Analysts believe that Egypt has adopted this balanced position in the Russian-Ukrainian crisis to preserve its relations with both Russia and its main rival, the United States.

However, Monday’s report — if verified — could damage the US-Egyptian relationship. 

A US government official told The Washington Post that they were “not aware of any execution of that plan,” and that they did not see it taking place. 

Egypt is one of the key US partners in the Middle East and one of the largest recipients of American defense exports, after Israel. “Since 1978, the United States has contributed more than $50 billion in military assistance, which has contributed to Egypt’s capabilities to protect and defend its land and maritime borders,” according to the US State Department website.

Moscow, for its part, also denied the claims in the leaked document on Tuesday, with presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling it “another sensational fake news.”

The document is among a trove of highly classified US documents that were leaked on social media platforms and chat rooms earlier this year. The US Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the leak of the documents, which mainly contain sensitive data on the war in Ukraine. 

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