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    Iraq armaments contract Ukraine's biggest - arms exporter

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    A contract to deliver armaments to Iraq is the largest one since Ukraine became independent after the fall of the Soviet Union, a deputy head of the state's arms trader Ukrspetsexport said Friday.

    A contract to deliver armaments to Iraq is the largest one since Ukraine became independent after the fall of the Soviet Union, a deputy head of the state's arms trader Ukrspetsexport said Friday.

    "A contract has been signed to supply armored vehicles and aircraft, as well as render services to repair and upgrade aviation equipment. This contract is the biggest signed during Ukraine's independence. It is worth over $550 million," Alexander Kovalenko told journalists.

    Earlier Ukrainian media said Ukraine reached an agreement to supply armaments to Iraq and estimated its worth at $2.8 billion.

    Russia's Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily said Wednesday the deal was worth $2.4 billion and would ensure orders for over 80 Ukrainian firms, including the state-run Progress machine-building plant in Berdichev, which produced T-80UD tanks for Pakistan in the 1990s.

    Kovalenko said the $550 million contract is one in a series of contracts being negotiated.

    "I hope we will reach the figure the press named," he said, adding that the signed contract mentioned over 400 armored vehicles and some 10 aircraft. He said it was signed around two months ago but only made public now.

    "The contract envisages brand new Ukrainian products created by the Kharkov-based Morozov machine-building design bureau," Kovalenko said, adding that the contract mentioned supplies of BTR-4 armored personnel carriers and An-32 Cline military transport aircraft.

    "We also hope it will embrace the Oplot [main battle] tank," he said.

    Deputy presidential secretariat chief Stepan Gavrish said Ukraine's taking part in the Iraqi peace operation also played its role when the contract was signed.

    "No doubt that the U.S. plays a key role in the restoration of Iraq and its armed forces. That's why it undertook not only military but also organizational and financial commitments. The adoption of the decision [on the contract] was impossible without account for its position," Gavrish said.

    Gavrish complained of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's administration's work on the contract and praised President Viktor Yushchenko's efforts.

    Russia's Nezavisimaya Gazeta on Wednesday also cited Sergei Zgurets, head of research at the Kiev-based Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CACDS) as saying the deal could have been influenced by Washington as the U.S. has allocated up to $3 billion in military aid to ready the Iraqi police and armed forces for the task of policing the country after the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

    The newspaper suggested the deal could have a negative impact on the relations between Ukrainian and Russian arms manufacturers because Russia was actively seeking arms contracts with Iraq.

    KIEV, December 11 (RIA Novosti) 

     

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