France was long a warship provider to old Imperial Russia– producing a number of the Tsar’s pre-dreadnoughts. They even gave back the old White Russian fleet to the Soviets, exiled in Tunisia after the Russian Civil War in 1924. Even with these historical ties, it came as a mild shock when NATO-ish France agreed to sell new Imperial Russia a pair of Russified Mistral LPDs a couple years ago.
Then came the whole Ukrainian thing and, under pressure from the rest of Europe, France pulled the plug and refunded Moscow’s money (about a billion dollars worth), leaving the Russians pissed and the French with two brand new ships on their hands with everything written in Russian (and loaded with some Warsaw Pact commo, radar, close in weapons systems and other and misc systems).
The Russians pushed to have the French either complete the deal or scuttle the ships, saying they couldn’t be sold with Putin’s toys installed. This eschewed plans to sell them to India and Singapore, both of which are looking to expand their navies on the cheap.
Except that Egypt now wants them and, with the Russians longing for a return to the Sadat-era where they sold billions of rubles of military gear to North Africa’s most together military force, Moscow is cool with that.
As noted by Defense News, Egypt will take the Russian ships as-is in a $1 billion deal (with Saudi financing).
“It was my preferred buyer because we already have military cooperation with Egypt,” French President Francois Hollande said of the deal he struck with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. “Egypt plays an important role in the Middle East and wants to move towards a democratic transition, which is not easy, and we should support their efforts.”
Of course, the prospect of leaving the door open for more weapons deals between Egypt and both France and Russia is likely part of the goulash as well.