Russia sold MiG-29s to Sudan
The Sudan People`s Liberation Movement/Army expressed its ``deep concern`` over reports that a Russian firm was selling MiG-29 jet fighters to the government of Sudan, saying it was obvious that Khartoum was using oil revenues to purchase these advanced combat aircraft to escalate the war in Sudan.
Agreement on a deal between the government of Sudan and the Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG /RSKMiG/ was sealed on 25 December, according to the Sudanese rebel movement, which cited the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in the Russian capital, Moscow, as its source.
``Reliable sources`` in Khartoum revealed that some of those aircraft had already been delivered, and were in El-Obeid (Al-Ubayyid), Northern Kordofan State /central Sudan/, close to the oilfields in southern Sudan, according to the SPLM/A spokesman, Samson Kwaje.
He claimed that the new MiGs would ``undoubtedly be used to attack with impunity civilian targets, including markets, hospitals, schools, churches, internally displaced camps, cattle camps, villages and humanitarian facilities on the pretext that these are military targets``.
The rebel spokesman strongly condemned Russia ``not only for selling these sophisticated fighter aircraft to a government that is committed to killing its people but also for participating in oil exploration and exploitation in Sudan``.
In the past two months, in particular, Russia and Sudan have been engaged in high-level bilateral talks intended to bolster economic, trade and other bilateral ties.
The Russian embassy in Khartoum said in late November that the two states were addressing oil exploration in Sudan, the participation of Russian companies in mapping out the proposed Merowe dam and hydropower plant on the River Nile /18.29N 31.49E/, and an ``agreement on aviation services``, among other issues, the official Sudan News Agency reported.
Diplomatic sources also said at the time that the parties could also address military-technical cooperation between Moscow and Khartoum, recalling that ``all restrictions in this sphere have been lifted from Sudan``, the Russian news agency Interfax reported on 26 November, the day before the arrival in Russia of Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Uthman Isma`il.
In Saturday`s statement, Kwaje also condemned other oil companies /notably Talisman Energy of Canada, Petronas of Malaysia, China National Petroleum Corpn, Lundin Petroleum of Sweden, OMV AG of Austria and Russia`s Slavneft, Rosneft and Tatneft/ for what, he said, was ``providing the government of Sudan with oil revenues to purchase aircraft fighters and to build large-scale military facilities that are being used to exterminate our people``.
Human rights and religious groups have repeatedly alleged that there is a close relationship between the development of oil reserves in Sudan and human rights abuses in oil-rich areas, including the mass displacement of civilians.
The NGO Christian Aid, as a key member of a coalition of over 60 European NGOs campaigning on oil in Sudan, on 10 August reiterated its call for a suspension of oil operations in the country, and a temporary ban on European investment in the Sudanese oil industry.
``The only way for oil companies to prevent being implicated in further human rights abuses in southern Sudan is to suspend oil operations until a just and lasting peace settlement has been reached,`` it stated.
International oil companies in Sudan were ``knowingly or unknowingly`` involved in a government counter-insurgency strategy that involved the forced displacement of local people from oil concession areas, according to the report of an independent fact-finding mission in October.
The Russian government must know that supplying these MiGs would ``complicate the search for peace by both the IGAD [Inter-Governmental Authority on Development] member states and the government of the USA``, the SPLM/A spokesman stated.
``The flow of oil revenues and consequent purchase of sophisticated weaponry these revenues will make the Khartoum regime intransigent and not negotiate seriously with the SPLM for a just peace,`` Kwaje added.
/UN Integrated Regional Information Network/AVIA.RU - Информационное агентство "Российская авиация и космонавтика"