Contrary to media reports, no deal has been signed for Russia to supply Egypt with Russian Kamov Ka-52 Alligator combat helicopters, the head of Russia's Rosoboronexport agency, the country's main arms exporter, told Russian news agency Tass Friday. Still, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi have been steadily increasing political and economic ties between the two countries over the past year. The mutually beneficial alliance is spurred in part by sanctions imposed by Western nations on Russia and the rising threat of an Islamic State group affiliate in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
Egypt intended to buy the helicopters, Tass reported, citing a "military-diplomatic source." The report gave no further details, Tass reported Thursday.
"There was nothing of the kind," Anatoly Isaikin, Rosoboronexport's director-general, said. The Ka-52 Alligator helicopter is designed for reconnaissance and combat purposes and can target and destroy tanks, ground targets, troops and other helicopters, according to a profile on the website for the company Russian Helicopters, which designs, builds and tests military helicopters.
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The news came on the heels of Sisi's three-day visit to Russia. He arrived Tuesday for talks with Putin on economic cooperation, conflicts and the Middle East, Al Jazeera reported. Russia has been working to boost ties with countries in Asia, Africa and South America, as its economy suffers under sanctions imposed last year by Western nations for Russia's involvement in the conflict in Ukraine. Egypt is scrambling to confront a spate of deadly attacks by Wilayat Sinai, a militant group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
Egypt is viewed as one potential partner, a possible buyer of not only Russian armaments and weapons but also grain. "Egyptian exporters successfully use the opportunities offered by our market which have additionally opened after certain restrictive measures have been adopted in response to EU sanctions," Putin said during Sisi's recent visit.
In September 2014, Egypt and Russia sealed a deal for Cairo to buy $3.5 billion in arms from Moscow. In February, during a visit to Egypt, Putin also announced that Russia would help build a nuclear power plant there.