Egyptian officials have reportedly decided not to get involved in arming Ukraine, shrugging off repeated US requests in recent months to produce artillery shells and other weapons needed for Kiev’s counteroffensive against Russian forces in the Donbass region. Washington asked Egypt to supply artillery, antitank missiles, air defense systems, and small arms for Ukraine. The requests were made on multiple occasions, including a March meeting between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo.
“In conversations with US officials, Egypt hasn’t definitively rejected the requests, but Egyptian officials said privately that Egypt has no plans to send the weapons,” the Wall Street Journal reported. Despite this, a US State Department official expressed optimism about getting Egypt to support Ukraine, stating that “our discussions with our Egyptian partners on our mutual interest in ending Russia’s war are productive and ongoing.”
Earlier this year, Cairo reportedly backed down under US pressure from an alleged plan to sell rockets to Russia. Al-Sisi has tried to maintain good relations with both Washington and Moscow amid the Ukraine crisis, declining to join in the US-led campaign to arm Ukraine and punish Russia.
The failure to enlist Egypt in the effort to support Ukraine comes at a critical moment in the conflict. Ukrainian forces are trying to push through Russia’s formidable defensive lines, while the US is rallying military and diplomatic support for Kiev. Al-Sisi’s decision also comes at a time when some members of Congress are urging President Joe Biden’s administration to withhold a portion of the annual US military aid pledged to Egypt due to concerns about the country’s human rights record.
US intelligence agencies had reportedly expected a different outcome. According to leaked US intelligence documents, the Egyptian government had approved a plan to sell artillery rounds to the US for transfer to Ukraine. However, Egypt has not followed through on this plan.
Al-Sisi attended Russian President Vladimir Putin’s summit with African leaders last month in St. Petersburg. After a one-on-one meeting with al-Sisi, Putin announced that Russia aimed to complete an industrial zone near the Suez Canal, part of a plan to increase trade with Egypt and other African nations.
The decision by Egypt not to arm Ukraine reflects its desire to maintain neutrality in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Egypt has sought to balance its relationships with both the US and Russia, refusing to take sides and avoiding actions that could escalate tensions. However, this stance has drawn criticism from some who argue that Egypt should do more to support Ukraine in its struggle against Russian aggression.
Despite the setback in obtaining weapons from Egypt, the US continues to pursue a strategy of rallying support for Ukraine from its allies and partners. The conflict in Ukraine remains a pressing international issue, and the US is committed to finding a peaceful resolution and supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity.