Fri, Dec 19, 2008
Western World Not Thrilled With 'Gift'
It's the season for giving... but a gift from Russia to Lebanon
isn't making anyone feel too merry.
Rumors that Russia would offer the government of Lebanon deep
discounts on a number of MiG-29s have turned out not to be true. It
turns out the 10 planes will be given to Lebanon at no cost at
The Times Online reports the gift is part of an agreement on
military-technical assistance. Mikhail Dmitryev, head of Russia's
defence co-operation service, is quoted as saying the jets would be
taken from Russia's existing fleet.
He added that supplies of heavy armor to Beirut from Moscow are,
"...now possible after the situation in this nation has stabilized.
We view the Lebanese army as the main guarantor of this nation's
stability, therefore the armed forces of this country must be
Officials in Israel are not amused. The MiG-29 is one of
Russia's best fighters, and a huge step up from the five outdated
Hawker Hunter jets and 16 helicopters currently in the Lebanese
The growing influence of the Islamic militant group Hezbollah in
Lebanon makes the new hardware a major concern, and the RIA-Novosti
news service reports Lebanese officials also want Russian tanks,
anti-tank rockets, air defence systems and helicopters.
Syria -- another enemy of Israel which has received military aid
from the Russians -- had also reportedly been interested in
obtaining not only MiG-29s, but modern Sam S-300 air defence
Moscow has said publicly it will not provide those systems to
Syria... but one wonders how long such scruples will last.
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