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Russia signs deal to buy Israeli drones
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin tells media 'We have concluded a contract with an Israeli firm on supplying Russia with several drones'. Number of drones purchased remains unclear

Russia has concluded a contract with an Israeli firm for the sale of drones, a defense official said Friday, in Moscow's first purchase of military hardware from the Jewish state.

 

"We have concluded a contract with an Israeli firm on supplying Russia with several drones," Russian Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin said after returning from a trip to Israel, quoted by Russian news agencies.

 

The minister didn't name the Israeli company involved, but press reports have identified it as Israel Aerospace Industries.

 

The reports did not give details on how many drones Russia would buy from Israel.

 

Russian media have reported the deal is worth about $50 million and that Russia will buy the drones from Israel's largest defence firm, state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). IAI officials declined to comment.

 

Russia's five-day war with neighbouring Georgia last August exposed a Soviet-style army with obsolete equipment and a lack of spy drones and high-precision bombs, analysts said.

 

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said that budget cuts this year in the wake of the financial crisis will not affect planned purchases of new weapons for the armed forces.

 

Reuters contributed to this report

 

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