The Wall Street Journal, citing U.S. and Egyptian officials, reported on Friday that U.S. ally Egypt repeatedly disregarded requests from Biden administration officials to close its airspace to Russian military flights.
The Journal reported that in February and March, U.S. officials requested that Egypt restrict its airspace to the Russian military, thereby preventing access to Syria. Egypt has not responded to these requests.
Egypt continues to permit the Russian defense ministry to use its territory to access Syria, complicating U.S. efforts to prevent Moscow from purportedly transporting weapons and equipment stationed in Syria to its forces in Ukraine.
The Journal reported that Russia maintains a military presence in Syria, where it has supported dictator Bashar Assad during the country’s civil conflict for the past five years.
U.S. officials told the outlet that Russia is using Egyptian airspace to convey weapons to the Ukrainian conflict zone after removing them from its bases in Syria to equip Ukrainian troops.
Mathieu Boulègue, a consulting fellow at the think tank Chatham House and an expert on Russian warfare and the country’s military industry, told the Journal, in reference to the Russian Defense Ministry, They’re probably pulling stuff from all over.”
“We’ve seen similar deployments and similar logic across military districts in Russia where they are using the database of what they have at any given time,” Boulègue said.
The Journal reported that as a result of U.S. and Ukrainian diplomatic efforts, Russian military aircraft must fly 2,000 miles and five hours further than usual to reach strategic bases in Syria.
After Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the United States and Ukraine persuaded Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey to obstruct some Russian military flights.
According to flight records, at least seven military flights made return journeys to Syria in late April and early May.
In addition, two cargo flights stopped in Syria en route to Russia’s Black Sea region, close to the occupied Crimean Peninsula.
“We decline to comment on private diplomatic conversations,” a State Department representative told the Journal.
According to the Journal, Egypt is one of the largest recipients of U.S. defense and humanitarian aid and annually receives approximately $1.3 billion in armaments and military equipment.
Nonetheless, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi maintains cordial relations with Moscow.
According to classified Pentagon intelligence documents obtained by The Washington Post, El-Sissi presumably instructed his military to produce and supply weapons to Russia.
Egypt, according to U.S. officials, never carried out the scheme and instead routed munitions to Ukraine.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.