Both the French defense minister and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov have publicly denied the allegation referenced in the original claim.1,2
According to Defense Industry Daily, which has detailed logs related to the sale of Mistral class helicopter carriers to Egypt, the sale was originally intended for Russia. The vessels were eventually refitted and received by Egyptian military, where they remain today by all accounts.
- Following Crimean annexation in 2014, the contract between the French maker and Russian came under increasing criticism.3
- On September 3, 2014 French President Francois Hollande announced his country's intent to halt the sale.3
- On August 17th, 2015 Moscow and Paris have reached an agreement to cancel the Mistral contract. Egypt made a bid in September of the same year as work began to remove the Russian-specific equipment from the two carriers.4
- The first carrier was delivered to Egypt on March 18, 2016. "The country’s Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi was in attendance with his French counterpart with the vessel to be named after Egypt’s famous strong-man President Gamal Abdel-Nasser."5
- The second carrier was delivered on Sept 21, 2016.3,6
- Russia is helping to outfit the vessels with communication equipment. "It’s believed that Cairo is seeking radio and electronic equipment worth at least $1 billion USD to equip and operationalize the carriers, amounting to a nice chunk of money for Russia."3
These are gigantic ships, a point of pride for Egypt, and named after Egyptian military leaders. Their sale and movement to Russia would not go unnoticed, particularly as the they being watched closely by reputable media specializing in defense industry. The claim is therefore unsubstantiated.