Russia denies it's in talks with Argentina on leasing jets

AP News
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Posted: Mar 27, 2015 11:04 AM
Russia denies it's in talks with Argentina on leasing jets

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia hasn't held negotiations on leasing a dozen supersonic bombers to Argentina, but would be willing to consider such a deal, a senior government official said Friday.

Alexander Fomin, the head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, a government agency tasked with coordinating arms trade, denied media reports claiming that Russia was in talks on offering Argentina a batch of 12 Su-24 bombers on lease.

"Regrettably, the issue isn't being discussed, but we are ready to discuss it," Fomin said in remarks carried by Interfax news agency.

The reports of the possible deal raised concerns in Britain that Argentina could use the bombers capable of high-speed, low-altitude raids to attack the Falkland Islands. Argentina invaded the South Atlantic territory in 1982, but was expelled by a British task force.

The bomber deal speculation comes as Russia-West relations have sunk to post-Cold war lows over the Ukrainian crisis. The United States and the European Union have slapped bruising economic sanctions on Moscow over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula a year ago and its support for a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Alexei Pushkov, the Kremlin-connected head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of Russian parliament, has recently defended Russia's move to take Crimea by tweeting: "Crimea has much more grounds to be part of Russia than the Falkland Islands have for being part of Great Britain."