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Egypt, Russia to start main phase of first-ever joint naval exercises

Ahram Online , Monday 8 Jun 2015
Egypt
Egyptian and Russian forces on board a naval vessel in Egypt's Alexandria (Photo courtesy of Egypt's Army Spokesman official Facebook page)
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Egyptian and Russian naval forces will start the main phase of their first-ever joint naval exercises on Tuesday, as the two countries take further steps to strengthen their relationship.

The one week of exercises, dubbed ‘Friendship Bridge 2015’, started on Saturday and will end on 14 June. The exercises are currently taking place in the waters of some of Egypt's coastal governorates overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Russian Admiral Victor Chirkov told Russian news agency SPUTNIK on Monday that Friendship Bridge is a concrete move in efforts to strengthen mutual understanding and friendship between the two countries.

Chirkov added that the two naval forces will "face challenges and risks that could arise in the sea."

Cairo has sought to strengthen its ties with Moscow against the backdrop of strained ties with long-time ally Washington since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. 

Egypt had strong ties with Russia in the 1950s and 60s, as the Soviet Union was the main supplier of arms to Egypt until the early 1970s.

Relations soured after Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty brokered by Washington in 1979 as Cairo shifted towards a strategic alliance with the US which earned it some $1.3 billion in annual US military aid since then.

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