Russia denies contract to sell MiG-31s to Syria
Russia on Wednesday denied having signed a contract to deliver MiG-31 fighter jets to Syria, a deal that would provoke tensions with Israel and the United States.
"The contract for deliveries of MiG-31s to Syria exists only in the tall tales of journalists," Anatoly Isaykin, the head of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, told the RIA Novosti news agency.
"Rosoboronexport has not signed any such contract and there are no negotiations on this subject," he told the agency during the Euronaval 2010 international aerospace exhibition at Le Bourget, near Paris.
Russian media have repeatedly reported on the alleged contract, despite frequent denials from Russian authorities.
According to newspaper Kommersant, a contract for the sale to Syria of eight MiG-31s for 400-500 million dollars (290-360 million euros) was signed at the beginning of 2007.
Syria and Israel remain technically in a state of war, and Russia's arms sales and possible nuclear cooperation with Damascus, which has close ties to Iran, is unnerving for both Washington and the Jewish state.
© 2010 AFP