Russian and Egyptian paratroopers in joint drill
Watch: Russian and Egyptian paratrooper participate in first ever joint drill called 'Defenders of Friendship 2016'; the massive drill, in which 800 Russian soldiers are participating in, are being carried out to practice anti-terror techniques; drill comes as relations between Cairo and DC turn colder.
Several of the soldiers were outfitted with body cameras, enabling drill instructors and the public to watch the drill from a first person perspective.
The purpose of the joint exercises is fighting terrorism. The Russians sent 800 combat soldiers – including paratroopers - 15 helicopters, and over 100 tons of equipment.
The Russian Defense Ministry believes that it is very important for their soldiers to train in desert conditions, and noted that the Russian soldiers are decked out in new gear suitable for all weather conditions.
Russian news site RT reported that the drill is taking place in el-Alamein. The drill saw Russian paratroopers jump from Ilyushin II-76 aircraft while Egyptian paratroopers jumped from C-130 Hercules aircraft.
The two forces also drilled in taking over a mock village which was constructed in the desert outside of Alexandria.
While the soldiers were conducting join drills, they were also sharing technical knowhow in the realm of military airdrops and parachuting. The Russians also helped the Egyptians understand how their planes operate during military maneuvers.
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has been moving closer to Russia both politically and militarily due to the cooling of relations between the Sisi regime and the Obama Administration in the US.
The Egyptian and Russian navies carried out joint drills in June of 2015 off the coast of Alexandria, consisting of five warships from each country. Russian military analysts assessed that “the joint drill constitutes a clear signal that Moscow and Cairo are getting closer in regards to fighting terrorism in the Middle East.”
Following the downing of a Russian passenger airliner in 2015 by ISIS, Russia has been sending advisors to Egypt to help them with their airport security. Russian media also revealed that there are plans for Russia to build an air base in Egypt, although a spokesperson for the Egyptian president denied this.
The joint drill comes shortly after Egypt supported a Russian UN Security Council initiative to differentiate between Syrian opposition forces and religious extremists. Most Arab countries didn’t support the resolution, and Saudi Arabia allegedly suspended oil and gas shipments to Egypt over the issue.
The warming of military relations between Russia and Egypt come as the Russians expand their military presence in Syria, and as a flotilla comprised of Russia’s largest warships sails towards the eastern Mediterranean.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said in September that “Russian presence in the region in 1967 helped to mitigate an escalation of Israeli-Arab violence, and was used as an important form of deterrence against unfriendly activities against the USSR.”