Baseball91's Weblog

September 8, 2011

When Spring Turns to Falls

With investment in the country valued at $19.4 billion in 2009, with additional exports to Syria estimated to be $1.1 billion in 2010, the Russian government dispatched Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov to Damascus last week to urge Syrian leader Bashar Assad to halt “violence” against protesters, and implement promised political changes, The Moscow Times reports today.

Russian firms have quite a presence in Syrian involving infrastructure, energy and tourism, along with lucrative arms contracts. So, Russia has blocked efforts by the European Union and United States to impose punitive measures through the United Nations, after a “crackdown” on unrest since March. Russia also has rejected U.S. and European calls for Bashad Assad to step down. “Russia is categorically against any interference, especially military, in the internal affairs of a country,” Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Tuesday in response to e-mailed questions to the Moscow Times. “Efforts to resolve the problems in Syria through outside force would provoke utter chaos in the Middle East.”

This “utter chaos” has already resulted in the death of 2,200 Syrian demonstrators, according to United Nations estimates. But there is a lot at stake in Syrian, a Soviet-era ally, for Russia. Russia maintains its only military facility in the Middle East with its Tartus naval base in the Mediterranean. In January 2011, oil-producer Tatneft, based in Tatarstan, had announced it would spend $12.8 million drilling exploratory wells near the Syria- Iraqi border.

With a staff of 80 Russians on the ground, Stroitransgaz has been working in Syria for more than 50 years. Nikolai Grishenko, director of Sovintervod, compared today’s protests to the 1980s civil unrest in Syria, which the government “successfully” crushed at the price of up to 25,000 dead and wounded civilians. With a 20-person team in Aleppo, Grishenko added his belief that Assad was a “decent man.”

According to data from the Moscow Defense Brief, there are more than $4 billion in active arms contracts between Syria and Russian capital, including MiG-29 fighters, Pantsir surface-to-air missiles, artillery systems and anti-tank weaponry. The Arab Spring has already put at risk an estimated $10 billion worth of business contracts Russia had with Gadhafi’s regime in Libya.

The Russians are having as bad a year as the Minnesota Twins.

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1 Comment »

  1. Comment by baseball91 — September 9, 2011 @ 1:02 AM | Reply

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