A Chinese newspaper reported recently that China was about to take delivery of two Project 636 Kilo-class submarines — the most advanced version of this Russian-built, diesel-powered vessel. The sale would mark the first overseas delivery of this sub, although India also recently ordered two. The Chinese boats were built in St. Petersburg and were said to be undergoing tests in the Baltic Sea prior to delivery. Rosvooruzhenie, the government-owned arms trading company, refused to confirm the deal, saying that such information was a "commercial secret, and, according to generally accept rules, not to be disclosed". (Reuter, Russian agencies, July 28)
Asia has become a prime market for Russian arms sales and seems likely to grow in importance. Yesterday, the Antara news agency reported that the Indonesian Air Force was thinking very seriously of buying 20 Sukhoi Su-30 jet fighters — the same model recently sold to India. (Reuter, July 29) As welcome as these sales might be, there are indications that all is not well with Russia’s foreign arms trade. Yesterday President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree directing Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to monitor personally the operations of Rosvooruzhenie. (Russian agencies, July 29) Officials employed by the arms trading company have been criticized for alleged improper business practices.
East European recipients of Russian arms have also been in the news. Despite U.S. pressure, Bulgaria has refused to destroy the SS-23 surface-to-surface missiles it received from the Soviet Union, claiming the loss would endanger Bulgaria’s national security by upsetting the military balance between it and it neighbors. (Xinhua, July 26) In the Czech Republic, meanwhile, members of parliament have protested the Defense Minister’s plan to do away with the Soviet-made MiG-23s that currently form the backbone of the Czech Air Force. (RIA Novosti, July 28) Leading Czech officials have on several occasions indicated that Prague, unlike some of its Eastern European neighbors, does not intend to modernize its armed forces with weaponry purchased from Russia.
Next CIS Summit to Be Held in Moldova.