Blackstar has posted several times on US attempts to arm the Lebanese army. The gist is that the US is willing to arm the Lebanese, but not give them the heavy stuff they really want. But what about the Russians? According to this story from the Times of London:
Russia gave Lebanon ten MiG fighter jets yesterday in a deal to boost defence cooperation.
The MiG29 Fulcrum fighters would be provided free to Lebanon under an agreement on military-technical assistance, the head of Russia’s defence cooperation service said. Mikhail Dmitryev said that the jets would come from Russia’s existing stock.
He said that Moscow was also in talks to supply Beirut with heavy armour, adding that supplies of such weaponry were “now possible after the situation in this nation has stabilised”.
He said: “We view the Lebanese army as the main guarantor of this nation’s stability, therefore the armed forces of this country must be strengthened.” The deal followed a meeting in Moscow between Anatoly Serdyukov, the Defence Minister, and Elias Murrhis, his Lebanese counterpart. Mr Serdyukov said that Russia had received a detailed list of armaments sought by Lebanon.
I’m no expert in military technology but this seems significant. And there have been numerous stories in the Arabic press calling for the Russians to play an increased role in the Middle East to counter-balance the US. If the Lebanese Army can’t get what they want from the US, why shouldn’t they go to the Russians? So this is also a golden opportunity for Russia to get back in the game.
UPDATE: Borzou at the LA TIMES writers in_greater_depth on the same topic.
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