Russia Scores Two, But Not Hugo

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Russian defense exports have recently scored two major deals, further advancing Russian military technology around the world in new and familiar markets. Turkey has recently decided to purchase Russia's latest and most advanced air defense system, the S-400. Anatoly Aksyonov, the official representative of the "Rosoboronexport," Russia's official arms export agency, confirmed Turkey's intention during the ongoing international military exhibition in Istanbul: "Turkey has expressed strong desire to acquire the S-400 missile systems from Russia, and this issue was discussed during the talks with Murat Bayarom, Minister of National Defense of Turkey." Russia has so far beaten the competition from the US, China and Israel, which offered, respectively, Patriot, HQ-9 (FD-2000) and Arrow defense systems. The estimated cost of Turkey's purchase of such defense systems ranges from $1 to $4 billion.

Russia's "Rosoboronexport" also recently announced that it will be building six "Kilo" diesel-electric submarines for the Vietnamese Navy, to the tune of approximately $1.8 billion. The official negotiations between Moscow and Ho Chi Min City started a year ago. Vietnam has already purchased various weapons from Russia - in 2001-2002, Russian defense enterprises received orders to build eight gunboats, two frigates, and onshore anti-missile system for the Vietnamese military. "Kilo" submarine - or "Project 636" - is one of the quietest submarines in the world. It is designed to perform a wide range of tasks, including the destruction of enemy submarines and surface ships, protection of naval bases and communications, and gathering intelligence.

Until recently it was thought that the most likely buyer of these Russian "Kilo" submarines would be Venezuela, whose negotiations with the "Rosoboronexport" started in 2007. Back then, Venezuelan Navy announced that the country needed Russian subs to control its off-shore oil production regions. But gradually, talks with Venezuela got nowhere - the original order went form nine submarines to just six to just three or four. Yet the final nail in the coffin of this deal was hammered by none other but Hugo Chavez himself, who offered to shake US President Obama's hand at the April summit of the Organization of American States. Russians must have construed Chavez's behavior as reneging on his earlier pledges to arm his country against "American aggression" and the submarine contract with Venezuela was canceled in favor of Vietnam.

Yevgeny Bendersky is the Senior Strategic Advisor for International Operations at Jenkins Hill International, LLC and a RealClearWorld contributor.
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