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Tuesday, September 20, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Sanctions costing Russia major rogue state
arms customers

MOSCOW — Russia is said to have lost major defense contracts in at least two Middle East states in 2011.


Industry sources said Russia's state-owned arms export agency, Rosoboronexport, has determined that it would lose defense markets in Sudan and Syria in 2012. They said Damascus and Khartoum would be unable to afford major combat platforms amid significant unrest in both Middle East countries.

"There are also strict international restrictions on selling weapons to either Sudan or Syria, and Russia will have to honor this," an industry source said.

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The sources said Rosoboronexport had sought to sell advanced fighter-jets to the Middle East. One platform was identified as the Su-30K, sold to Algeria and marketed to other states in the region, Middle East Newsline reported.

Russia's Irkut, which manufactures the Su-30, has been stuck with 18 combat jets after India refused delivery. The Sukhois were transferred to Belarus at $15 million per aircraft after other countries, including clients in the Middle East, failed to show interest.

"To buy a heavy fighter for $15 million is a real bargain,"Russian Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies director Ruslan Pukhov said.

The Russian business daily Kommersant described the Su-30s as being more than 15 years old and in need of an upgrade. Kommersant said Belarus was the most likely client, although industry sources did not rule out that the former Soviet republic would seek to export the aircraft.

The sources said Sudan and Syria have also sought to enhance their MiG-29 fighter-jet fleet. They said Rosoboronexport has ruled out major sales to either country as well as Libya, Sudan's neighbor.

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