U.S. officials, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, asked Egypt to supply weapons to Ukraine, seeking to help the Ukrainian government overcome a shortage of ammunition, but Egyptian officials said privately that Egypt has no plans to send the weapons, ‘The Wall Street Journal’ writes.
Austin made the request in March when the secretary of defense met Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, in Cairo. Egypt’s leaders were noncommittal at the time, and senior U.S. officials have raised the request in multiple encounters since then, the officials said.
The U.S. asked Egypt to supply artillery shells, antitank missiles, air-defense systems and small arms for Ukraine, according to a U.S. official. In conversations with U.S. officials, Egypt hasn’t definitively rejected the requests, but Egyptian officials said privately that Egypt has no plans to send the weapons.
Egypt’s reluctance is a hurdle for Washington’s globe-spanning effort to drum up weapons and ammunition for Ukraine at a critical moment in the war.
Washington is also engaged in an effort to rally diplomatic and material support for Ukraine and counter the Kremlin’s influence in the global south.
Egypt has attempted not to take sides since Russia invaded Ukraine, maintaining friendly ties with the Russian government. Sisi has a warm personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and attended a summit of African leaders in St. Petersburg in July. Egypt also buys the majority of its wheat from Russia, and Moscow is looking to increase those sales after it backed out of an agreement last month that had allowed Ukraine to export grain via the Black Sea.
The Egyptian government’s failure to deliver the weapons so far has raised concerns among members of Congress who are pressuring the Biden administration not to release $320 million in military aid in order to maintain pressure on the government over its human-rights abuses. The U.S. provides Egypt with $1.3 billion in military aid each year, with a small portion conditioned on the country’s human-rights record.
A group of senior Democratic senators wrote a letter last month to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the administration to withhold the aid for a third straight year to urge Egypt to release political prisoners and stop torture, extrajudicial killings and other human-rights abuses. Eleven Democratic members of the House separately urged the administration to withhold the aid in.