A Russian warship has docked in Egypt’s port of Alexandria in a move that officials said was aimed at bolstering Cairo’s relations with Moscow ahead of one of the highest level visits by Russian officials to the country in decades.
The missile cruiser Varyag was received Monday by a 21-gun salute and a band played military music. The commander of the Alexandria port was on hand to greet the warship.
A military official speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations said the cruiser will be in Alexandria for six days.
The cruiser is expected to later join Russian forces in the Mediterranean. Russia’s defense and foreign ministers are following the ship to Egypt on Wednesday.
Weapons will be high on the agenda as Moscow tries to bring back its influence to a region where it has suffered many setbacks in influence.
An official at Russia’s Rosoboronexport state weapons exporter said last week that Moscow was ready to foster its “traditional (military) ties” with Cairo.
“We are ready to conduct negotiations with the Egyptians about the possibility of both supplying new military equipment, and repairing equipment supplied in Soviet times,” the unnamed official told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.
Russia has had complicated but sometimes close relations with Egypt that included Soviet-era support for the deposed ex-president Hosni Mubarak.
Moscow has also said little about this year’s toppling of president Mohamed Morsi.
But Egypt’s Prime Minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, has said that Cairo may look to Moscow for weapons after having some its military aid suspended by Washington over its crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement.