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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kuwait Mulls More Russian Arms Deals

KUWAIT -- Kuwait is considering further Russian arms deals following a purchase of vehicles and missiles announced this week, newspapers reported Wednesday.

Defense Minister Sheikh Ahmad Hamoud al-Sabah was quoted as saying Tuesday that he had sent a new delegation to Moscow to discuss the possibility of buying more weapons.

He did not elaborate. But Kuwait has expressed interest in purchasing the Russian SS-200 anti-missile system, similar to the U.S. Patriot system the emirate has already acquired, and other Russian weapons.

The Russian state arms trading company Rosvooruzheniye is already supplying Kuwait with BMP-3 armored personnel carriers and the Smerch multi-launch rocket system under an agreement Sheikh Ahmad signed with Russian Ambassador Pyotr Stegny on Monday.

The Kuwaiti deal will boost Russia's prospects of making gains in the lucrative Middle East arms market even though most Gulf states rely on the United States, Britain and France for military hardware.

Sheik Ahmed would not disclose the size of Monday's deal, but Western military sources said that Kuwait had been seeking an initial order of 27 of the mobile multiple launchers, enough to equip a regiment.

The emirate also has been seeking up to 60 BMP-3s to add to the 40 BMP-2 APCs it bought in 1992.

Kuwait is the first foreign country to buy the BM-30 rocket system, which was introduced in the Soviet army in 1987.

Sheik Ahmed said the deal was worth "hundreds of millions of dollars." It represents Kuwait's first major arms purchases from Russia since the 1991 Gulf War.

Last year Kuwait signed a 10-year bilateral defense pact with Russia that provides for joint maneuvers and weapons purchases. Since the 1991 Gulf War, Kuwait has signed similar agreements with the United States, Britain and France.

Sheik Ahmed said he will visit Beijing at the year-end to sign a military accord with China. That will mean Kuwait will have defense pacts with all five of the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

More than three years after the Gulf War, the oil-rich emirate still fears aggression by Saddam Hussein. Despite a financial crunch caused by the war and last year's slump in oil prices, Kuwait has allocated $12 billion for defense until the year 2000.

(Reuters, AP)