Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Syrian Military Chief Visits Russia for Weapons

According to Kommersant magazine and Red Star the Syrian military Chief of Staff is visiting Moscow to get a weapons deal. Moscow has forgiven a previous debt of $10 Billion for arms, on the grounds that future purchases are paid in hard currency. "(General)Habib asked that the number of Syrian military receiving training at Russian military institutes and academies be increased and he gave Baluevsky two lists. The first was a list of military equipment in the Syrian armed forces that needs repair and modernization. According to information received by Kommersant, Syria is interested in the repair and modernization of its armored vehicles (1000 T-72 tanks, 500 BDRM-2 amphibious reconnaissance vehicles, 2000 BPM-1 and BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles) and aircraft (20 Su-24 strike bombers, 20 MiG-29 fighter jets and 100 Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters). The second list was an inquiry for delivery of new models of weapons. Kommersant has learned that that list includes mass-produced Russian Tunguska-M antiaircraft missiles, Kornet and Metis antitank missiles and Krasnopol guided artillery projectiles."

The Red Star article doesn't mention the "Tunguska" missiles, but says the Syrians asked for "Iskander" missiles. The Russian MD, Sergei Ivanov, denied foreign press reports that Russia planned to sell those weapons, referring to an announcement at the February international security conference in Munich that "even though international agreements place no limits on the delivery of this or similar arms, Moscow has not conducted and will not conduct negotiations on this topic with Damascus." «хотя по международным соглашениям никаких ограничений на поставки этого и подобного вооружения не существует, Москва не вела и не ведет переговоров на эту тему с Дамаском».

Personally, I think modern Russian weapons and training will make fighting the Syrians more difficult and dangerous. On the other hand, Baghdad was similarly equipped and trained in 1991. The major difference now being that our training levels were still high from the Cold War. We kicked Saddam's ass so thoroughly the first time because we had been training to fight that war for forty years. The only difference was that the men manning the gear were speaking Arabic, not Russian. Our forces have been doing a great job destroying the bad guys in house to house, but are we ready for another "conventional" fight?

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