The US went from trying to convince Egypt not to buy Russian Su-35 planes to blackmail. Washington finds no other solution that does not involve threatening Cairo so that it does not cooperate with Moscow in the military field. Russian expert Alexei Leonkov explained why the US fears competition with Russian weapons.
The Pentagon and the US State Department in a joint letter deterred the Egyptian authorities from acquiring Russian multipurpose fighters of the 4 ++ Su-35 generation. In his letter they threatened sanctions in case the purchase was made.
On November 22, a senior official declared that the United States maintains contact with Egypt in order for this country to renounce the purchase of Russian military aircraft. Some in Cairo the rhetoric of Washington already seems unacceptable.
One of these people is a member of the National Security Committee of the Egyptian Parliament, General Yahya Kidwani, who said that the US pressures his country with his actions. According to the military, threats from the United States violate diplomatic norms and are an unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of Egypt.
The precedent that changed the rules of the game
“It is very likely that Egypt will get away with it because there is already a precedent: the case of the purchase of the Russian S-400 from Turkey. The United States has already tried to put pressure on Ankara and yet all its attempts were in vain. Egypt will ignore the threats from the United States because it understands that it needs Russian planes to guarantee its defensive capabilities,” he said.
Kidwani believes that Egypt makes the decisions for itself and cooperates with different countries in the world based on the need to protect their own interests. The military stressed that Cairo will not give in to pressure from the United States or change its policy to please it.
In addition, Washington announced on November 22 that third countries also call on Cairo not to jeopardize the progress made. In other words, to refuse to buy Russian military aircraft. Leonkov believes that this is an attempt by blackmail by the United States and that they tried to influence Egypt through Saudi Arabia.
“It is possible that some other country has participated in these attempts to change opinion in Cairo. But they do not go beyond words. They are nothing more than an example of unfair competition that unfortunately harms especially Egypt,” he said.
The United States threatens sanctions against Egypt so that it does not buy Su-35 multipurpose fighters for economic and political reasons. And it is that the acquisition of Russian weapons damages the image of weapons sold by Americans, according to Leonkov.
The American side sees that in the last two years the interest in Russian military products by many countries of the globe has grown exponentially. Another winner in this area is the Chinese armament, very similar to Russian.
Russia currently ranks second in the list of largest arms exporters. Today the leader of the ranking, the United States, surpasses the Eurasian country by a large margin. According to data from the World Bank, in 2018 the US obtained benefits of 10,508 million dollars from arms sales , compared to 6,409 million dollars from Russia. However, from 1990 onwards, US military exports varied, but remained more or less at the same level, while the Russian ones grew more than double.
Currently the Russian armament is in great demand. We are talking, above all, about military aircraft and air defense systems. Buyers see the ability of Russian weapons in different situations, including real combat, Leonkov said.
This is the reason why many foreign countries are committed to Russian military products and Washington is aware of its popularity. The advantage of Russian armament is that, unlike the US, it is not linked to any political condition, he added.
“Russia does not ask buyers to be loyal to it or threaten to introduce economic measures against anyone,” he explained.
Nor should we downplay the good value for which Russian weapons stand out. The most illustrative example was the attack against the Saudi Aramco refinery in September. At that time Patriot anti-aircraft defense systems failed in their attempt to defend the company’s oil facilities, the interviewee recalled.
“The worst part is that the Saudis had paid huge amounts of money for these weapons and for instructing their military personnel to operate them. However, the Patriots failed at the worst time. The drones of the Houthis – name of the members of the Yemeni movement Ansar Allah – they penetrated the airspace as if there was no air defense,” he recalled.
The attack caused considerable damage to the facilities, the cost of which is significantly higher than the air defense systems themselves that protected the sky above them, he continued.
Previously, the possibility of Riyadh acquiring the S-400 systems had been considered , but the negotiations were unsuccessful, in part, due to pressure from its US partners. In general, Leonkov explains, Washington puts a lot of pressure on Saudi Arabia so that it does not cooperate with Russia in the military.
In addition, the US and Saudi Arabia have signed a trade agreement that allows Riyadh to buy American weapons at a discount . Once they try not to comply with the clauses of that agreement, then tough economic measures are introduced against the Arab kingdom.
“While the Saudis show interest in Russian war material, they cannot cooperate with Russia in this area because their hands are tied. Riyadh holds negotiations with Moscow on the purchase of weapons, but these consultations do not always bear fruit,” he said.
As for military aviation, American fighters have shown on the ground not to live up to the benefits that American advertising attributes to them, according to the military.
The situation of Russian military products is much easier. They do not enjoy the publicity of Americans, but they are of better quality, that is, they almost never fail. Emblematic examples are the Kalashnikov assault rifle and the RPG-7 anti – tank rocket launcher , as well as Russian tanks and howitzers in service worldwide.
Hopefully, despite all the adversities, Russia will develop military cooperation with the countries of Southeast Asia, with the Middle East and with some countries in Latin America . Leónkov predicts that African countries will play an important role in the military ties that Russia maintains abroad.