Sunday,22 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1317, (27 October - 2 November 2016)
Sunday,22 October, 2017
Issue 1317, (27 October - 2 November 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Illogical and incorrect

Egypt and Russia deny claims that Cairo sold two French-built Mistral ships to Moscow — and for just $1

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Not only did Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz come up with the unheard of claim that Egypt had sold two French-built Mistral ships to Russia. According to Macierewicz, the deal was worth just $1.

“How can we comment on this [statement] if we know that Egypt is in talks with Russia on the purchase of military equipment for the Mistral ships? How could Egypt sell them for $1? Why?” the spokesman of the Egyptian Embassy in Moscow Ayman Moussa told Russian news agencies.

“It is true that the Mistrals were sold to Egypt, and it is true that in recent days they have de facto been transferred to Russia for $1. This operation did indeed take place,” Macierewicz told the Polish parliament last week.

He added that “if Egypt would now withdraw from this operation it would be a gain for world peace.”

Moussa described Macierewicz’s statements as illogical and simply incorrect.

Russia has denied the claims, describing them as just plain “silliness”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Macierewicz’s claims were “complete nonsense”. He added that the “good sources” of Macierewicz are not reliable.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov also dismissed Macierewicz’s statement, calling it “silliness” and “nothing but TGIF (Thank God it's Friday) nonsense”.

Russia ordered two Mistral ships — which are amphibious assault ships that carry helicopters — from France in 2010 for 1.37 billion euros.

In late 2014, French President François Hollande announced that France would not be delivering the ships due to Moscow’s occupation of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine.

In 2015, Paris and Moscow formally terminated the deal and France had to refund the 950 million euros ($1 billion) that Russia had prepaid for the ships.

The helicopter carriers were eventually sold to Egypt for some 950 million euros.

The cancellation of the deal strained relations between France and Russia.

Relations between France and Poland are also tense following Poland’s cancellation of a $3.5 billion deal to buy French military helicopters.

Egypt is the first country in the Middle East to have Mistral warships.

The first Mistral warship, named after former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel-Nasser, joined the Egyptian fleet in June.

The other Mistral carrier, named after another former Egyptian president, Anwar Al-Sadat, was delivered last month.

Earlier in May, Cairo also finalised the purchase of a military reconnaissance and monitoring satellite from France.

In February 2015 Egypt announced an agreement with France to buy 24 French Rafale fighter jets, seven of which have already been delivered.

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