How Russia’s destabilising strategy backfired in Libya.

Moscow caught on back foot by regime’s collapse

Putin….waving goodbye to lucrative trade with Libya

A senior Russian arms-exports ministry source admitted today that the Moscow regime had not expected unrest to bring down the Libyan regime. He also added that the Russian Federation “would lose billions in terms of arms and oil investment”.

Rather than being an oil-producer Vladimir Putin would love to destabilise, Libya has for some years been the source of back-up and joint-venture oil for the Russians, and also its biggest African arms customer. In return for an $8 billion arms deal in April 2008, Moscow completely wrote off Libya’s outstanding trade debt with Russia – an amount estimated to have been in the region of $4.5 bn.

“The last thing the Kremlin wanted was to see the regime collapse” said the source, talking to Moscow news agency Interfax, “we’ve been negotiating a new $2 billion arms contract. Nothing can be ruled out in the current situation, and in the worst-case scenario, these plans may be wrecked”.

The planes being used against Libyan protesters were part of an arms deal done between the two countries completed in January 2010,  a success announced personally by Mr. Putin while meeting with the Board of Izhmash, a major Russian gun manufacturer. Following the arms-for-foreign debt deal of 2008, Putin said that “Libya is orientated towards the most active co-operation with Russia in all areas”.

Although the Kremlin has supplied arms to most Middle Eastern governments, it has – as The Slog has maintained for some time – been largely engaged in training and arming resistance movements in such places as Algeria, Tunisia, Bahrain and Egypt: its government arms trade with Egypt is comparatively small.

But Libya was far more of a partner nation – as indeed it was for Italy….see Slog piece from yesterday. Two years ago,  Moamer Gadhaffi offered to host a Russian naval base near Tripoli.

The collapse of the Gadhaffi regime is a blow to Putin’s influence strategy, a massive loss to Russian exports,  and a personal setback for Putin himself. A classic case, in fact, of playing with fire…only to be burned oneself.

7 thoughts on “How Russia’s destabilising strategy backfired in Libya.

  1. I think the significance of the Russian Fed’s support for regimes like mad Ghadaffi is that they’re doing little different to what the West has been doing for decades. Given that the West’s actions have often had an oil/gas strategic security focus, only short-sighted anti-American folks think that these actions were wrong.
    And one cannot ignore that the French were arming Argentina with Exocets before the Falklands conflict whilst being a member/ally of ‘The West’.

    And you’re right; what we see is really an extension of the Cold War being conducted thru commerce.

  2. It’s Saudi Arabia,next,Algeria too,not Jordan,then Syria by Christmas,and sometime a completely irrational outburst from Iran…

  3. Years ago when there were no fly over Africa rules for South African Airways, the airline used to land on the Cape Verde Islands -Isle de Sol- I think that was bristling with Russian aircraft– because we saw them, wasn’t it a listening station, and isn’t it still there.

    Is Putin on kissy huggy terms with many other African states, and if so what do they want from him besides the usual?

  4. Pingback: When conspiracy theory becomes conspiracy practical. | The Slog

  5. Pingback: LIBYA & THE UK: Oh how they laughed when The Slog said Moussa Koussa was a double agent….. | The Slog

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