A few months ago, Rob and I discussed Russia donating 10 MiG-29 fighter jets to Lebanon (read here and here). The cost of maintenance was back then considered a serious issue for (and probably by) the Lebanese government. As it turns out, so too it was for the Russian government.
Russia has apparently failed to invest enough roubles to make its military hardware operational. A few weeks ago, AP and several newspapers, including Al Nahar and The Moscow Times, started publishing reports that the planes are too unsafe and unreliable for use, and a word of warning was sounded out to the Lebanese:
“Lebanon has been advised to “wait” before accepting MiGs after reports that at least a third of Russia’s fighter jets are unsafe and should be written off or repaired.”
Apparently, Russia had tried to pull a similar act of generosity towards Algeria recently. That didn’t last very long, as Algeria returned 15 MiG 29’s back to Russia, citing “poor quality”.