Syria may be ravaged by civil war, but the Assad government has inked a new deal with Russia to purchase $550 million worth of military jets. It’s doubtful that the 36 YAK -130 will be of particular use against anti-Assad protesters. It’s more likely that Syria is greasing some important palms in Russia to keep the Kremlin firmly in their camp. Does Russia have qualms about selling military supplies to the Assad government? “We are only trading items with Syria that are not banned by international law,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week.
Despite economic and demographic problems at home, Russia remains very active on the international arms market. Indeed, they recently leased a nuclear submarine to India. Is this the start of a new trend? Is Russia destined to become the Avis of military technology? With little to export other than energy supplies and minerals, Moscow is looking for cash. Arms sales are an important source of income. Lease agreements for those who went to rent rather than own may be an increasingly common source of revenue.