Libya Pursuing Big Russian Arms Deal

27.01.2010 Libya

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Libya is seeking to buy more than $2 billion worth of Russian arms including 20 fighter planes, the Interfax news agency reported Jan. 26, citing a military-diplomatic source.
The report came as Libya's defense minister was due to visit Russia in the latest sign of renewed cooperation between Moscow and the North African state, which enjoyed close ties during the Cold War.
"Libya is ready to buy around 20 fighter planes, at least two divisions of S-300PMU2 air defense systems and several dozen T-90S tanks from Russia, and also to modernize more than 70 tanks and other weapons," the source said.
The source told Interfax that more than $1 billion of the deal was for combat aircraft such as SU-35s, SU-30s and Yak-130s. The news agency put the total size of the deal at $2 billion (1.4 billion euros).
Earlier a senior Russian official had confirmed that Moscow was counting on signing arms deals with Libya during Tuesday's visit by the country's defense minister, Gen. Abu-Bakr Yunis Jaber.
"We expect his visit will not just be of a political nature, but will also allow the signing of contracts on the delivery of arms and military hardware," Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, deputy head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, told the RIA-Novosti state news agency last week.
Dzirkaln, whose service oversees arms exports, said Libya was interested in Russian fighter jets and air defense systems but did not elaborate.
Neither the service nor Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport could be reached for comment.
Moscow and Tripoli have stepped up their contacts in recent years. In 2008 Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi visited the Russian capital in his first visit to Moscow since the 1980s.


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