08/24/2011, 00.00
RUSSIA - LIBYA
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Moscow counts potential losses in post Gaddafi era

by Nina Achmatova
According to experts, it will be difficult to rebuild a relationship with the new authorities who will be "much more pro-Western than before." At stake billion dollar contracts currently frozen: oil, infrastructure and armaments.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - On the third day of battle in Tripoli between loyalist forces and rebels backed by the NATO coalition, while the fate of Colonel Gaddafi is still uncertain, there are already those in Russia who are counting the Moscow’s potential losses, economic and political, as a result of a change of regime in Libya.

Russia has been among the staunchest opponents of military intervention in North Africa. It did not exercise its right to veto the UN Security Council Resolution 1973, but only decided after long weeks of war to take sides in favour of the Transitional National Council (TNC). Mikhail Margelov - Special Representative of President Dmitri Medvedev for Africa - said that the rebels have guaranteed that all contracts signed with Russia will be respected.

But according to Vladimir Isayev - researcher of the Institute of Oriental Studies (Ran) - it is unlikely that the new authorities will like the Kremlin's initial opposition to any action against the former ally Gaddafi. "We have some political questions to put to Russia, China and Brazil" (who abstained from voting at the UN), said Abdeljalil Mayouf - Head of Communications of the Libyan oil company Agocia. Before the conflict, Russians was represented in the energy sector in Libya, by Gazprom Neft and Tatneft.

As recalled by the business daily Vedomosti, Russia already felt the pinch of these losses in the recent International Aerospace Show (MAKS 2011) held at the gates of Moscow August 16 to 21. The Director General of State body Rosoboronexport, Anatoly Isaikin, confirmed that UN sanctions against Tripoli have cost Moscow 4 billion dollars. The contract for 600 million euros for the supply of anti-missile systems had been shut down just days before the resolution, complains Boris Obnosov, director of Tactical Missiles Corporation (Ktrv). In addition, a contract has been frozen for six Yak-130advanced training aircraft, as pointed out by Alexey Fedorov, president of Irkut Corporation, a leader in the Russian aerospace industry.

Work on the 550 km of high speed Sirte-Benghazi railway has also been halted, awarded in 2008 to Russian Railways. The company spokesman made it known that work will be relaunched after the normalization of the situation in Libya.

In an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Semyon Bagdasarov - member of the Parliamentary Committee for International Affairs - notes that Russia will soon be forced to recognize the forces that will be installed in Tripoli. "The question – he warns - is how to will build our relations with the new government, which will be extremely difficult given that Libya is now much more pro-Western than before."

For Konstantin Makienko, expert of the Center for Strategic Analysis and Technology in Moscow, France is set to benefit most of all in the post-Gaddafi era, "it will finally be able to export its expensive Rafale fighter, for which so far it has no orders," he explains in the columns of Vedomosti.

Medvedev’s popularity may also be affected by the fall of the Rais. If in the international arena support for its Western allies has helped Russia’s image, internally – according to political analyst Boris Makarenko - the head of the Kremlin could suffer a drop in support: the majority of Russians, according to some surveys, support the Colonel.

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