9 Feb 2016

Russian arms to Fiji worth almost US$9m

2:17 pm on 9 February 2016

The Fiji government has revealed a shipment of arms from Russia to Fiji is valued at US$ 8.8 million.

The government was questioned about secrecy around the aid deal in Parliament today.

When the shipment arrived in Suva last month, the Fiji Labour Party said it was a secret deal while the parliamentary opposition said the transaction was illegal because it did not go through parliament for approval.

The Minister for Defence Timoci Natuva told parliament the deal was signed with the Russians in 2013 and there was no necessity for it to be announced in the House.

"Shifting arms and ammunition across the world is a safety ... it goes through a safety process. You don't have to go around calling (out) to people that we are providing ammunition for Fiji."

To a question on why the consignment was not listed as aid in the 2016 budget, Mr Natuva said the finalisation of the shipment was made after the budget was published.

Russian soldiers arrive in Fiji

Reports from Fiji say about 20 Russian soldiers have arrived in the country under tight security.

Islands Business reports the soldiers landed at Nadi International Airport on a Korean Airlines flight and were taken through the VIP channels normally used for diplomats and dignitaries.

The magazine reports they were met by Fiji Military Forces officers and driven away in waiting transport.

The arrival of the soldiers, who Islands Business understands to be weapons experts, comes with the arrival in Suva last month of containers of arms and equipment from Russia.

The foreign ministry in Moscow said the small arms and munitions were supplied at Fiji's official request and would used by its mechanised infantry battalion which was part of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force deployed in the Golan Heights.

Earlier a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said an official handover of the consignment would take place in February.

Russian media report about arms delivery for Fiji forces on UN peace keeping duty

Russian media report about arms delivery for Fiji forces on UN peace keeping duty Photo: Tass

  • Russia says arms sent to Fiji are for UN role
  • Concerns over use of Russian arms by Fiji
  • Fiji peacekeepers to use Russian arms