Tripoli, 26 April:
Despite repeated denials by the Libyan government, Russia is insisting that Libya, along with Iraq, is seriously interested in . . .[restrict]resuming purchases of Russian weaponry.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, whose brief includes the Russian defence industry, said in Moscow this week that both the Libyan military leadership and the Iraqi government had shown “serious” interest in acquiring Russian arms. He added that Libya had “ a very specific interest” in defensive weaponry.
“We are certain that the Libyan military leadership trusts this weaponry, which proved to be very reliable,” he told the news agency Russian international news agency, Ria Novosti, “That is why they are interested in restoring military-technical cooperation with Russia, and we welcome it.”
Before the revolution the army had almost three thousand main battle tanks, all Russian, 1,225 of which were in store. The majority were obsolete T55 and T54 machines.
A great many of these tanks along with many of thousand-plus reconnaissance vehicles and 1,600 armoured personnel carriers in Qaddafi’s army were destroyed in NATO attacks.
In 2010, Moscow agreed to upgrade the obsolescent T72s, of which the army had almost 300, 115 of which were “in store” – often because they had broken down through poor maintenance. This contract was part of a $4 billion of armaments order place with Moscow by Qaddafi that remained unfulfilled and or unpaid at the revolution.
It was significant that Rogozin went on to say Russia would continue to insist that arms contracts concluded by the old regime, be honoured by the new Libyan authorities. It was not possible to contact the Ministry of Defence for comment.