New Libyan leaders confirm they will not honour Russian arms contracts

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The new Libyan authorities are not planning to buy Russian weaponry, according to National Transitional Council chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil.

“Libya will not need weaponry [from Russia] in the future,” Jalil told RIA Novosti. Gaddafi’s regime signed arms contracts with Russia worth billions for armoured vehicles, air defence systems and other equipment.

The rebels said they would diversify their arms sources and that the Russian prices were too high.
“We will honour any agreements concluded with other states before, but they will be checked and reviewed because some were based on corruption,” Jalil, said, adding that all the international contracts concluded by Gaddafi’s government will be reviewed by the new Libyan authorities.

Russia banned weapons sales to Libya in March, suspending its arms contracts with the Gaddafi government in line with moves by other nations.

Russia’s arms exporting monopoly Rosoboronexport said that it may have lost some US$4 billion in existing and potential arms deals with Gaddafi’s government.

Russian experts said that the refusal to buy Russian weaponry by the new Libyan authorities was predictable because Moscow did not play an active part in the support of the Libyan rebels and was too slow to recognize the NTC as the legitimate power in the country, according to Afrique Avenir. Russia only recognised the NTC as Libya’s legitimate authority on the first of this month.

Earlier in the year Rosoboronexport said it had lost US$2 billion worth of arms contracts with Gaddafi’s government due to the UN sanctions against Tripoli. In addition, Russia had also been near to closing deals to sell military aircraft and anti-aircraft missiles worth another US$1.8 billion.

Then Libyan Defence Minister Yunis Jaber in January last year went on a major spending spree during a visit to Moscow, signing 1.3 billion euros worth of deals, including for six Yak-130 fighter-trainers. Libya had also been expected to become the first foreign buyer of Russia’s Sukhoi Su-35 fighter and a contract worth US$800 million for 12-15 aircraft had been ready for signing.

A range of other contracts for helicopters and missile systems were also being discussed. Libya had also shown great interest in Russia’s new S-400 missile defence system, its T-90S tanks, submarines and rocket launchers.

The Soviet Union had delivered a huge amount of military hardware to Libya before the collapse of the USSR, including 350 fighter jets between 1981 and 1985 as well as 4,000 military vehicles and tanks.

Other countries delivering weapons to Gaddafi’s regime have also had business disrupted. The German Deutsche Welle radio reported European Union figures showing that in 2009 member states granted export licenses worth 343 million euros to Libya. Italy approved exports worth 112 million euros, largely in the form of military aircraft. Malta was second on the list after it authorised the resale of a 79 million euro consignment of light and small arms originating from Beretta in Italy. Germany was third on the list, with 53 million euros of licenses, mostly for electronic jamming equipment that may presently be the cause of the mobile phone and Internet communications disruptions in the country.

AFP notes missile systems maker MBDA Italia signed a deal worth 2.5 million euros in May 2009 to supply Libya with “material for bombs, torpedoes, rockets and missiles,” according to an Italian interior ministry report. Helicopter maker AgustaWestland signed two contracts with Libya in October 2010 worth 70 million euros. Also last year, Selex Sistemi Integrati signed a 13 million euro deal to provide Libya with gun targeting equipment. Artillery company Oto Melara reportedly last November also begun talks with Libya in November 2010 for “weapons or weapons systems with a calibre of more than 12.7 mm, as well as material, spare parts, know how and equipment.” This year military shipmaker Intermarine Spa started negotiations with Libya for contracts worth a total of 600 million euros.

Deutsche Welle adds YouTube footage posted in Belgium allegedly showed semi-automatic FN 303 anti-riot guns seized by anti-Gadhafi protesters. They were reportedly supplied by FN Herstal in a 11.5 million euros deal that included rifles, pistols, rifle grenades and ammunition. The radio station adds that in 2008 Britain blocked a license to ship 130 000 Kalashnikov assault rifles to Libya because of fears they could be resold to warlords in Sudan, but in the same year, Romania sold Gadhafi 100 000 of the guns.

Between 2003 and 2009 South Africa exported military equipment worth some R80.9 million to Libya, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Jeff Radebe in March confirmed. Radebe, speaking replying in his capacity as chairman of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), said this included shotguns, military vehicles, ammunition, parachutes and night vision equipment. A further question regarding the export of 100 sniper rifles and 50 000 rounds of ammunition last year was not answered. However, in May and June, evidence emerged of Truvelo sniper rifles in Libya.

Earlier this year it was revealed that Denel was busy finalising a deal with Libya to sell billions of rands worth of military hardware to the country, including G6-52 artillery systems, missiles, grenade launchers and anti-material rifles.

The Mail & Guardian obtained an internal Denel memo outlining a successful trip to Libya last year, which the newspaper says describes the negotiations as ‘close to a done-deal’.
“The MOU is initiated and will be signed in due course. The trip received the blessing from both the presidencies. The Brother Leader also stressed the importance of having Africans trading within the continent,” the memo reads. “The president of Libya and his South African counterpart will sign within the coming year.” The memo added that the Libyans were willing to pay half the contract in advance.



The value of the weapons Libya would have received amounts to R6.289 billion, City Press reported.