Russia has agreed to sell at least ten MiG-29 M/M2 fighters to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This comes on the heels of a deal made between the two allies, of Russia selling S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to the regime of President al-Assad.
On Saturday, Russia’s MiG aircraft manufacturer stated it plans to sign an agreement to ship the fighter jets to Syria. This is despite the mounting international criticism of Russia’s deal with Syria to sell them the S-300 missiles.
According to Sergei Korotkov, MiG’s director general, a Syrian delegation was in Moscow to go over the details of a new contract for the delivery of MiG-29 M/M2 fighters.
Various Soviet news agencies reported that Korotov said Syria wanted to buy “more than ten” MiG-29 M/M2s. He did not state the exact number, though.
Attempts were made to get clarification from a spokesman from MiG, but rather than stating a number, the spokesman said that Korotov might be referring to a previously negotiated deal the company had with Syria that had presumably been placed on hold due to the ongoing brutal civil war in Syria that has gone on for two years thus far.
The casualties have grown to over 70,000 and millions of Syrians have fled the country in an effort to escape the hostilities.
Over more than four decades, Russia has been shipping missiles, combat jets, artillery, tanks, and other military gear to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. amounting to billions of dollars’ worth of money.
Syria and Iran are two of Russia’s allies in the Middle East. Syria is strategically important to Russia because it hosts Moscow’s only naval base outside of the former Soviet Union.
President Bashar al-Assad has been shielded from UN sanctions by the intervention of Russia. Despite the uprising against him that began in March 2011, Moscow has continued to provide al-Assad’s regime with weapons .
According to Russian media reports, Syria placed an order a few years ago for 12 MiG-29 M2 fighters with an option of buying another 12.
This would be in line with what The Stockholm Peace Research Institute has reported about Russia’s plans to sell Syria twenty-four MiG-29s in total.
The MiG-29 twin-engine fighter jet which has been a mainstay of the Soviet and Russian air force since mid-1980’s. The MiG-29 M2s that Russia is selling to Syria is an advanced version of that jet fighter.
Syria had about 20 MiG-29 fighters in their arsenal along with scores of other Soviet-and Russian-built aircraft.
Syria, according to comments reportedly made by President Bashar al-Assad to Lebanon’s Hezbollah-owned television station, Al-Manar TV, has reportedly received its first shipment of the S-300 anti-aircraft missiles from Russia.
Tensions in the region will likely increase at al-Assad’s announcement. The two deals could undermine efforts to hold UN peace talks.
Written by: Douglas Cobb