THURSDAY JANUARY 10 2002
Russia signs contract to build two destroyers for Chinese Navy
FROM MICHAEL BINYON IN MOSCOW
RUSSIA yesterday announced that it had signed an arms contract to build two new destroyers for the Chinese Navy at a cost of $1.4billion.
The ships will be delivered to the Chinese by 2006 and will be equipped with up-to-date missiles, bombs, torpedo, radar and anti-submarine systems as well as new anti-ship supersonic missiles.
The vessels, able to reach 34 knots, will add formidable power to the Chinese Navy.
The contract follows a $650million weapons sale to India and underlines the crucial importance to the Russian economy of its arms sales, one of its main sources of revenue after oil exports.
India is one of Russia’s primary arms markets and the present tension with Pakistan is deeply worrying to Moscow. India is putting pressure on Moscow to supply vast quantities of emergency spares, but the Russian factories are unable to meet demand. Should war break out and Moscow be unable to resupply India immediately, its arms sales would suffer a catastrophic blow.
This has added weight to Russian efforts to enforce restraint on India, 70 per cent of whose weapons are of Soviet or Russian origin.
Together with the Chinese, the Russians promised at the recent summit meeting of the Shanghai Co-operation Council to use their influence to restrain the military confrontation between India and Pakistan. Since both countries are crucially dependent on Russia and China respectively, that means that each will look to Beijing and Moscow for emergency spares and other arms that may be needed in any future war.
Unlike China, Russia — the third largest arms exporter — has not announced any new arms supplies to India during the present build-up. It has come under considerable pressure to match any weapons sent to Pakistan, and would be extremely loath to let down one of its top arms purchasers at a time of need.
Copyright 2002 Times Newspapers Ltd.
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