Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, a close ally of the U.S., instructed his military to produce and supply weapons to Russia, according to a document that appears to be leaked intelligence from the Pentagon seen by The Washington Post.
Sisi ordered the military to ship 40,000 rockets to Moscow while taking steps to conceal the plan “to avoid problems with the West” according to the document, dated Feb. 17 shortly after Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Sisi, and marked as the highest level of classification, the Post reported. While the Pentagon has stated that North Korea is exporting lethal equipment to Russia and China has considered following suit, for Egypt to directly support Russia would likely disrupt what has proven a valuable relationship for Cairo, experts said.
“We are not aware of any execution of that plan,” a U.S. government official told the Post on condition of anonymity. “We have not seen that happen.” (RELATED: Pentagon Officials Are Realizing US Munitions Stockpiles Aren’t Nearly Big Enough To Take On China)
The document is one of dozens that surfaced on online messaging platforms in recent months that appear to represent classified Pentagon briefing materials primarily on issues related to the war in Ukraine.
The document further summarizes conversations between Sisi and top military aides the U.S. may have intercepted and alludes to a plan to provide Russia with gunpowder and artillery rounds, according to the Post. Factory workers were to be told the rockets were destined for Egypt’s military, Sisi said, according to the document as seen by the Post.
An individual by the name of Salah al-Din — possibly a reference to Mohamed Salah al-Din, minister of State for Military Production — promised to “order his people to work shift work if necessary because it was the least Egypt could do to repay Russia for unspecified help earlier,” the document 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 U.N. charter and international law in the U.N. General Assembly resolutions,” Ambassador Ahmed Abu Zeid, spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, told the Post when questioned about the document.
“We continue to urge both parties to cease hostilities and reach a political solution through negotiations,” he added.
Egypt has sought to remain neutral over the war in Ukraine, while the U.S. had devoted billions to supplying Kyiv with weapons, training and equipment to repel Russia’s invasion.
“Egypt is one of our oldest allies in the Middle East,” Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations committees, told the Post. “If it’s true that Sisi is covertly building rockets for Russia that could be used in Ukraine, we need to have a serious reckoning about the state of our relationship.”
The U.S. gives Egypt more than $1 billion in security assistance each year and counts on it as a close ally in the Middle East, helping to stabilize the region and defuse tensions between adversarial countries, according to the Post.
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