Egypt has agreed to buy two Mistral-class warships from France, the French government said Wednesday, announcing its second military sale to the economically-strapped country this year.
The assault ships, which can each carry 16 helicopter gunships, 700 troops and up to 50 armored vehicles, were originally intended for Russia. France continued building to Russia's specifications including stenciling Cyrillic writing throughout the vessels until the deal finally fell apart because of the Ukrainian crisis. It was originally supposed to be the biggest arms sale ever by a NATO country to Russia.
France agreed to refund 950 million euros ($1 billion) already paid by Russia. France didn't say how much Egypt agreed to pay, but denied losing money.
Egypt also purchased 24 advanced fighter jets from France earlier this year for nearly $6 billion, as it sought international help to bomb ISIS targets.
Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was the leading figure of the military coup that ousted Morsi on July 3, 2013. After el-Sissi took power, security forces targeted the political protestors standing against the coup. The protestors were either killed or arrested. Furthermore, Morsi was put on trial for various alleged charges and the Muslim Brotherhood was declared as a terrorist organization by the Egyptian court.
Since the coup, thousands of other Egyptians have been put in prison for supporting former President Morsi. Many journalists, academics and supporters of democracy have been detained and held in military facilities. Many of those who were jailed have died in custody as a result of mistreatment.
Turkey was among the countries that are rumored to buy the warships as it plans to increase it presence in the eastern Mediterranean.