Israel: May 28, 2005


As part of its effort to sell more weapons to Syria, Russia is forgiving 73 percent of the $13.4 billion Syria owes for past purchases (mostly weapons). Many of these older deals were, in fact, gifts. Before the Cold War ended in 1991, the Soviet Union sought to gain influence in the region by providing inexpensive weapons on generous (low interest, long pay-back period) terms. But it was understood that there would be no pressure to maintain the payments, as that would threaten the good will the Soviets were trying to foster. The Cold War ended all that, but the Russians found that their major clients in the region, Syria and Iraq, were either unable, or unwilling, to repay these debts. Thus the deal with Syria, which is contingent on Syria buying new weapons, at much less generous terms. Syria will begin repaying the remaining debt this July. 



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