Russian military industries take aim at North Africa
MOSCOW — Russia has targeted former Soviet allies in North
Africa as potential military clients.
Officials and analysts said Moscow has been discussing major weapons
deals with such countries as Egypt, Libya and Morocco. They said Russia has
used the $7.5 billion arms deal to Algeria in March 2006 as the model for
the rest of North Africa.
"The Algeria deal will trigger a pride race among the North African
nations," Ruslan Pukhov, an analyst with the Moscow-based Center for
Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said.
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Algeria agreed to purchase fighter-jets, air trainers, main battle tanks
and air defense systems in exchange for the elimination of its $4.7 billion
debt to the former Soviet Union, Middle East Newsline reported. Under the deal, Algeria must first pay for
the weapons before Moscow writes off the debt.
Officials said Libya and other North African states also owe billions of
dollars to Moscow from the Soviet era. They said Moscow has offered to write
off their debt and develop their energy industries as part of a major
Libya owes Russia $4.3 billion from the Soviet era, officials said. They
said Libya has sought to modernize its military, but has failed to reach
agreement with Western suppliers.
"In absence of means to force some of its debtors to pay, the most
logical thing Russia can do with such debts is to use writing them off as a
fare to access local arms markets," Ivan Safranchuk, head of the Moscow
branch of the Center for Defense Information, said.