by Maria Vesnovskaya
Moscow (Voice of Russia) Dec 18, 2012
Moscow will resume cooperation with Tripoli on training military specialists for the Libyan army, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told reporters on Thursday. Such a cooperation, which was in place in the former Soviet Union, was scrapped in the wake of a civil war in Libya and the subsequent ouster of Muammar Gaddafi.
Bogdanov, who is also the Russian President's special envoy to the Middle East, declined to elaborate. Oriental expert Gumer Isayev says that the resumption of military and technical cooperation between Moscow and Tripoli is of paramount importance to both countries.
Libya desperately needed more arms right after Gaddafi coming to power in 1969, Isayev says. Tripoli decided to turn to the Soviet Union in the face of confrontation with Western countries. Libya has always been the Soviet Union's important partner in terms of purchasing arms and developing military exchange programs.
As of the late 1960s, the then-Libyan Arab Jamahiriya has bought arms worth almost 20 billion dollars from the Soviet Union. Arms supplies included about 4,000 tanks, several dozens of anti-aircraft systems and more than 300 aircraft. At the time, there were many Soviet military specialists and interpreters in Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union Russia halted new supplies and worked only under the old contracts. The situation changed in the late 1990-s when international sanctions against Tripoli were lifted. Moscow and Tripoli resumed intensive military-technical cooperation signing numerous contracts for supplies of helicopters, anti-tank systems and Kalashnikov assault rifles.
The countries also reached agreement on the upgrade and repair the entire military inventory of the Libyan Army. The cooperation reached its peak after Vladimir Putin visited Libya in 2008. But the overthrowing of Muammar Gaddafi hampered their implementation of the new contracts.
Today Libya is slowly recovering after the civil war, which is actually still on in many districts of the country. In this situation the revival of the national armed forces which were liquidated during the intervention is more than a pressing issue.
But there are many political aspects which complicate the negotiating process, experts stress. In any case it is important for Russia to restore its positions in Libya, military analyst Konstantin Makienko says.
"The revival of contacts is course beneficial. After the coup in Libya or even earlier when the US liquidated Saddam Hussein in Iraq it was believed that Iraq and Libya ceased to be clients of Russia's Defense industry for a long time. Now it has turned out that those estimates were too pessimistic. Iraq has shown a real interest in buying Russian weapons and now we see Libya resuming contacts with Russia too".
For the first time the news that Libya was ready to resume military technical cooperation with Russia was voice in March 2012 by Libya's Prime Minister Abdel - Rahim al - Keeb. In summer the officials of Russia's state-controlled arms trader Rosoboronexportvoiced the same intention on behalf of Russia.
Source: Voice of Russia
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