Russia has deployed special forces troops in an airbase in western Egypt, Reuters reported on March 13, citing “U.S., Egyptian and diplomatic sources”.
“The U.S. and diplomatic officials said any such Russian deployment might be part of a bid to support Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar, who suffered a setback with an attack on March 3 by the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) on oil ports controlled by his forces.
The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States has observed what appeared to be Russian special operations forces and drones at Sidi Barrani, about 60 miles (100 km) from the Egypt-Libya border.
Egyptian security sources offered more detail, describing a 22-member Russian special forces unit, but declined to discuss its mission. They added that Russia also used another Egyptian base farther east in Marsa Matrouh in early February,” Reuters’ article reads.
If true, it will indicate a deepening cooperation between Moscow and Cairo in security sphere which could lead to a notable impact on the ongoing conflict in Libya.
Egypt has repeatedly used its air force to pound terrorist targets across the Egyptian-Libyan border and is clearly interested in increasing security in the area.
However, Egyptian army spokesman Tamer al-Rifai denied the claims that Russian military servicemen had been deployed in the country.
“There is no foreign soldier from any foreign country on Egyptian soil. This is a matter of sovereignty,” he commented on the issue.
The Russian Defense Ministry also denied the report.
The Russia-Egypt cooperation:
The Russian Special Operations Forces: