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Russia, Burma sign arms deal

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Russia will deliver 20 MiG-29 fighter jets and Mi-35 attack helicopters worth Euro 450 million to Burma, the business daily Vedomosti told Mizzima.

Alexey Nikolsky, reporter for Vedomosti, who is following the contract closely, said the two countries concluded the deal in early December and the ‘Rosoboronexport’, Russia’s sole arms exporter, will begin delivering the fighter jets and helicopters in 2010.

Quoting a high-level source in ‘Rosoboronexport’, close to the Russia-Burma negotiation process, Nikolsky said the contract includes delivering 20 MiG-29 fighter jets worth Euro 400 million (US$ 570 million) and 8 to 10 Mi-35 attack helicopters worth Euro 50 million (US$ 71 million).

Burma’s military junta, which has ruled the Southeast Asian nation for the past two decades, chose Russia’s MiG-29 Fulcrum-D carrier-based fighter jets over China's offer of its latest J-10 and FC-1 fighters.

The Press Office at the Rosoboronexport in Moscow on Wednesday did not respond to Mizzima’s query on the contract with Burma’s military government.

Russia and China, the two veto powers at the United Nations Security Council, are known to be the closest allies of Burma’s reclusive military junta. Despite sanctions by the West, United States and European Union, including an arms embargo, Russia and China had been supplying military hardware to the pariah state.

Burma, in the 1990s, had purchased Chinese military aircraft worth about US $ 2 billion, the Vedomosti said in a report on Wednesday.

Burma in 2001 bought 12 MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia but Nikolsky said the current contract is so far the largest between the two countries, and possibly “the most important in [Russia-Burma] bilateral relations.”

He said other vital part of the Russia-Burma relations includes cooperation in peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Russia in May 2007 announced building a 10-megawatt nuclear reactor with low enriched uranium consisting of less than 20 per cent uranium-235.

“The cooperation in gas and oil exploration is not that meaningful [for Russia] due to the territorial distance between our two countries and lack of Russian expertise to do business there,” Nikolsky added.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 24 December 2009 12:16 )  

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