13 Feb 2016

Fiji's Russian weapons of no concern to NZ PM Key

7:31 pm on 13 February 2016

New Zealand's prime minister says he is not concerned about Fiji's military receiving shipments of weapons donated by Russia.

John Key announcing he won't be attending Waitangi.

John Key announcing he won't be attending Waitangi. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

A shipment of 20 containers arrived in Suva last month containing weapons worth US$8.8 million, and yesterday, defence minister Timoci Natuva said his government was negotiating for a second.

Both Suva and Moscow insist the weapons, which include small arms, ammunition, and vehicles, are for Fiji's United Nations peacekeepers who operate in volatile areas like the Golan Heights and Sinai.

At a news conference in Christchurch on Saturday, John Key said he was not particularly worried about the arms shipment.

"Well it depends on what that weaponry is going to be used for. I mean, our main point really when it comes to Fiji and any of the Pacific countries is that whatever they do with anyone else is a matter for them, as long as they understand that the responsibility rests with them and that certainly includes soft loans that they can get from, not so much Russia, but some other countries."

Over the past decade, Fiji has increasingly looked to Russia, China, and India -- and away from New Zealand and Australia -- as part of its official 'Look North' policy.

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