Libya strikes arm deal with Russia
Libya has struck a deal to buy Russian arms worth almost two billion dollars, Russian news agencies quoted Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, as saying.
“Yesterday (Friday), a contract worth $1.8bn was signed. It does not only involve firearms”, Putin was quoted as saying by Ria Novosti and Interfax on Saturday.
The Russian prime minister did not specify the type of arms or military equipment involved in the deal.
But a Russian diplomatic source told Interfax on Tuesday, however, that Libya wanted to acquire 20 fighter planes, at least two S-300 air defence systems, several dozen T-90C tanks and other arms.
Putin was speaking following a meeting with the head of the Izhmash factory, which manufactures Kalashnikov rifles.
Russian officials said early this week that negotiations were under way with Younes Jaber, the Libyan defence minister, in Moscow over the sale of Russian weapons.
Moscow and the North African state enjoyed close ties during the Cold War, and much of Libya’s arsenal was purchased from the Soviet Union in its last years.
Moscow and Tripoli have stepped up their contacts in recent years.
In 2008, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi visited the Russian capital in his first visit to Moscow since the 1980s.
Not only has Russia promised to start up an Iranian nuclear reactor this year, they have also decided to arm Libya. It is hard to doubt which side Russia is on, in the inevitable showdown with the Islamic world.