Libya has signed an arms deal with Russia worth 1.3 billion euro. Reuters quotes Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as saying the deal was inked on Saturday.
“… we signed a contract … and it’s not only small arms,” Putin added, without specifying which weapons Libya intended to purchase.
There was, also, no official confirmation or statement by Russia’s powerful state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport.
Interfax news agency quoted a military-diplomatic source as saying Libya was prepared to buy around 20 fighter planes and S-300PMU2 air defence systems. The agency said on Tuesday that Libya also may acquire T-90S tanks, and modernise more than 140 T-72 tanks and other weapons.
The deal was signed after talks with Libyan defence minister, Major General Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr, earlier in the week in Moscow.
The US UPI news agency adds the visit signals the latest show of renewed cooperation between Russia and the once pariah state of North Africa.
Another part of the deal would focus on securing combat aircraft such as the Sukhoi SU-35, SU-30 and Yakovlev Yak-130. That purchase alone would absorb half of the funds Libya is set to allocate for its Russian arms design, the Interfax news agency said.
Relations between Russia and Libya have warmed in recent years following the latter’s bid to shed its pariah status in 2003 when it renounced weapons of mass destruction and took responsibility for a 1988 airliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed 270 people.
In 2008, also, during a visit to Tripoli by President Putin, Moscow agreed to cancel billions of dollars of Libyan Soviet-era debt in exchange for big contracts for Russian companies. It was Putin’s first visit to Tripoli since the 1980s.
It remained unclear whether the new, lucrative arms contract was signed during Jaber’s Russia visit.
“We expect his visit will not just be of a political nature, but will also allow the signing of contracts on the delivery of arms and military hardware,” Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, deputy head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, told the RIA-Novosti state news agency ahead of Jaber’s visit.