Egypt has reversed its decision to sell ammunition to Russia following the United States’ deployment of advanced weaponry, including F-35 fighter jets and Patriot air defense systems, which provided a strategic advantage in negotiations.
According to confidential documents leaked to The Washington Post, Egypt had originally planned to supply 122mm rocket shells to Russia but later decided to provide ammunition to Russia’s rival, Ukraine. The US newspaper cited five intelligence reports which revealed that Egypt had suspended its plan to supply missiles to Russia in March, following negotiations with senior US officials, despite the previously strong relationship between Cairo and Moscow.
Initially, Cairo had agreed to supply Moscow with up to 40,000 Sakr-45 rockets of 122mm caliber, but after discussions with representatives from the United States, Egypt approved the sale of artillery shells of 152mm and 155mm caliber to be delivered to Ukraine. The decision to reverse the initial plan highlights the delicate diplomatic balancing act that countries like Egypt must undertake when navigating relationships with major global powers.
Reports indicate that the Cairo government had initially consented to provide Moscow with a maximum of 40,000 Sakr-45 rockets of 122 mm caliber. However, following discussions with representatives of Washington, Egypt authorized the sale of artillery shells of caliber 152 and 155 mm to be delivered to Ukraine from the United States.
As per the Washington Post, Egypt intended to utilize the US request for ammunition as leverage to negotiate a long-term military support agreement and obtain access to crucial US equipment, such as air defense systems like the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter and the PAC 3 Patriot air defense system.
According to the document, Egypt was assisted by the United States in establishing a production line for ammunition, including licensing agreements and the importation of raw materials. However, the leaked data was incomplete and did not reveal whether Egypt plans to send the ammunition to Washington or directly to the government of Kiev.
It is also unclear whether Egypt intends to resume the supply of ammunition that can be utilized by the Russian BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher system (MLRS) or its variants in the future.
In the past, due to the depletion of the stockpile of artillery shells belonging to the United States and its European allies, the Washington government had resorted to employing strong tactics or employing decoys to coerce or persuade some of its hesitant allies to supply ammunition to Ukraine for its war against Russia.
In a similar vein, South Korea lent half a million 155mm artillery shells, in accordance with Western artillery standards, to the United States before Egypt. According to a report by South Korean media on April 12, the Seoul government agreed in secret with Washington to lend 500,000 artillery shells to the Pentagon’s stockpile, with the understanding that the US would eventually reimburse this “loan.”
Leaked private Pentagon documents on social media indicate that South Korean officials were genuinely concerned about Washington’s pressure to provide military support to Ukraine, while also being unwilling to violate the country’s principles of supplying ammunition to countries in conflict.
According to the Tona Ilbo newspaper, citing insider sources, the agreement to lend the US artillery shells was a “circumvention of the law” measure that allowed the South Korean government to maintain ownership of the ammunition while avoiding transferring the shells to Ukraine and offending Russia.
The newspaper’s source stated, “This form of exchange permits South Korea to uphold its principle of not supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine while concurrently demonstrating its goodwill to assist Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, as requested by its US ally.”