John Kirby says there’s no suggestion Egypt is supplying Russia with 40,000 missiles.
Written by Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher
The Washington Post, citing leaked US intelligence documents, created a frenzy in the media by suggesting that Egypt was planning to secretly send up to 40,000 missiles to Russia. This claim could be separate from the other leaked US intelligence documents as the report was not only denied by Cairo and Moscow, but White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby also said he had no information about this.
Russian Presidential Press Secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that what appeared to be an Egyptian plan to “secretly” supply thousands of missiles to Russia were like other fake news related to the state of the Russian military and the war in Ukraine.
In fact, the claims are ridiculous considering that Russia does not need missile supplies, whether from Egypt or any another country, because as far as Russia’s own military-technological development is concerned, it does not need assistance and help. Rather, the disinformation spread by the Washington Post is a clear example of demagogy to try and cause greater problems.
The broadcasting of such news aims to drag Egypt into global conflicts and incite hostility without reason. This could be because Cairo has announced its intentions to join BRICS, something which deeply concerns Washington. In this way, the Washington Post is conjuring disinformation in a vain attempt to deter Cairo from deepening its ties with Moscow.
For their part, a senior Egyptian official denied supplying Russia with 40,000 rockets for use against Ukraine and described the Washington Post report as “informational tampering that has no basis in truth.” He added that Egypt follows a balanced foreign policy determined by peace, stability, and development.
Kirby told reporters on April 11 that Washington has “seen no indication that Egypt is providing lethal weaponry capabilities to Russia”, adding that the Arab county is a “significant security partner” and that the relationship between the two goes back decades.
With official denials from Cairo and Moscow, with Washington indicating that it has no information, it appears that this is likely a fake news story by the Washington Post, perhaps in an attempt to create doubts over the authenticity of the leak reports. The supposed document that discusses Egypt is being reported as part of a trove of leaked Pentagon reports. However, there is no evidence for this.
The batch of recently leaked documents have been circulating on social media channels for weeks, possibly months, even if it was only exposed days ago. Many of the leaked documents included secret information on the war in Ukraine, such as scepticism on the success of the expected Ukrainian spring offensive, while other documents appear to show sensitive analyses of US allies, including Israel and South Korea.
Pentagon spokesman Chris Meagher said on April 10 that the documents could pose “a very serious risk to national security” and lead to the spread of disinformation. It appears that the spread of disinformation already began with the claim that Cairo is supplying 40,000 missiles to Russia.
The Washington Post reported that, according to leaked US intelligence documents, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi approved of the production but ordered officials to keep it a secret “to avoid problems with the West”. Yet, no other media agency or social media account has seen the documents, and thus all this information comes from this single dubious source.
Although Egypt has avoided taking sides in the war, Cairo and Moscow have a long and fruitful relationship expanding many decades, including in economy, energy, and security.
In one example, Egypt became the world’s largest importer of wheat in 2021 after imports reached $4.53 billion, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity. Egypt mostly imported its wheat from Russia and Ukraine, but since the war, Cairo is also turning to India to secure alternative supplies. None-the-less, Russia is still one of its most important suppliers.
It is recalled that Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on January 31 that wheat imports are a cornerstone in Cairo-Moscow relations, adding that trade between the two countries hit $6 billion in 2022.
More importantly, the Russian Central Bank added in January the Egyptian pound to its official exchange rate list. According to Cairo-based economist Hanan Ramses: “Using the ruble for settlement away from US currency will help ease pressure on demand for the greenback in Egypt. This is better for Egypt’s international trade.” She added that “Egypt may become Russia’s gateway to African markets in the long run.”
Given that Egypt is an African entry point for Russia, in addition to Russia being an important source of wheat for Egypt, it is very evident that the Washington Post is attempting to disrupt this relationship. What is surprising though is that Kirby expressed his lack of knowledge on the claim, suggesting that even this disinformation campaign is one step too far for the State Department as they attempt to woo Egypt away from Russia.