Russia/Egypt politics: Quick View - Russia increases clout in Egypt with military, nuclear deals
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- Economist Intelligence Unit
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- Russia, Egypt
On December 11th Rosatom, the state-owned Russian nuclear company, signed a deal to construct a nuclear-power plant in Egypt. This follows another draft agreement, inked on November 30th, which would allow the Russian and Egyptian air forces to share airspace and air bases.
The nuclear deal has a total cost of US$30bn and involves the construction of the four 1,200-MW nuclear reactors of the El Dabaa power plant (which is located 130 km north-west of Cairo, the Egyptian capital); the supply of all the plant's nuclear fuel for 60 years (the operational lifetime of the project); and the construction of a storage depot for depleted nuclear fuel. Rosatom, which is fully owned by the Russian government, will provide financing for 85% of the project (including US$21bn for the construction of the four reactors, which are due to come into operation in 2028-29).
An initial agreement for the construction of the El Dabaa power plant had been inked in 2015; however, the downing in Sinai of a Russian charter airliner in October 2015 in a suspected terrorist bomb attack put a halt to the negotiations. It is believed that the Egyptian authorities favoured Rosatom's offer because the company will produce all the components of the power plant, partly through opening local factories in Egypt. Such a plan will mean that Russian nuclear expertise will be transferred to Egyptian engineers. The Russian authorities did not put progress on human rights in Egypt as a condition for the building of the nuclear plant.
The signing of the deal follows the conclusion of a military draft agreement on November 30th regarding the common use of airspace and air bases by Egyptian and Russian fighter jets, bombers, airborne radar pickets and military transport planes, with a five-day notice period over five years (the deal is renewable). It is doubtful that Egypt will ever need to use Russian airspace or air bases, but Russia may use the Syrian Hmeimim air base to cover the Mediterranean region. The deal will facilitate the training of Egyptian fighter jet pilots by their Russian counterparts. Such close co-operation will provide increased opportunities for Russia to sell military jets and weapons to Egypt.
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