Lebanon seeking Russian arms to combat terrorist groups

Mashnouq lebnon I minister

Mashnouq lebnon I ministerLebanon’s Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq will be heading to Moscow on September 18 to purchase military equipment for the Internal Security Forces, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Monday.

Lebanon will use the $1 billion Saudi grant to Lebanon to fund the Russian arms the report added.

According to al-Akhbar, Mashnouq will also discuss with Russian officials the possibility of receiving a Russian military grant.

Al-Akhbar also quoted diplomatic officials as saying that Army chief Gen. Jean Kahwaji recently visited Russian Ambassador Alexander Zasypkin to prepare for his visit to Moscow.

His agenda will include the activation of a Russian grant that was announced in November 2010 and which includes providing the Lebanese army with helicopter gunships, tanks, cannons and ammunition, the diplomatic officials added.

This development comes after the United States delivered an emergency shipment of weapons to Lebanon’s military which is part of a broader regional effort to combat the growing threat posed by Islamic extremists.

The Lebanese government requested the weapons after militants from Syria attacked the Lebanese border town of Arsal earlier this month, killing and kidnapping soldiers and police in the most serious spillover of violence into the tiny country from the neighboring civil war.

Russia made in the past many promises to Lebanon to supply its army all types of equipment from fighter jets to helicopters but according to media reports it never delivered on its promises.

The Saudi grant of $1 billion was announced last month by former PN and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri. This was in addition to the $3-billion grant that was announced last year to cover French made military hardware