Hannah Omarjee | firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, February 15 2023 | 22:00 PM CAT
3 min read
The Russian ambassador to Lebanon stated that Russia would provide Lebanon with free wheat and oil derivatives at the government’s request. Speaking to Radio Islam International, political analysis and media communications specialist Marita Kassis said this is because of the long-standing relationship between Russia and Lebanon. Both countries have strong foundations with several agreements in different industries and a memorandum of understanding in the oil and gas fields.
Kassis said Russia is responsible for about 5% of the total Lebanese imports, placing them fourth on the list of most crucial Lebanese import sources. Meanwhile, Lebanese exports to Russia are valued at about $8.1 million. Any aid that Lebanon receives from Russia no longer comes as a surprise, as Russia provided aid to Lebanon last year by sending 25 000 tons of wheat and 10 000 tons of fuel oil. According to the Russian ambassador to Lebanon, the two countries are already discussing and coordinating the deal’s technical aspects at the table.
It is believed that there will be no significant impact on US – Lebanese relations. Lebanon did not choose to go to Russia to spite the US. Kassis said these are not shady deals but donations, which the Lebanese government has specifically requested. She says, “It doesn’t really come as a surprise to the US that Russia would respond or take the initiative, for that matter. But as you mentioned before, Russia has always been involved in Lebanon and has a personal interest in seeing that its geopolitical interest in the region advances. Lebanon is in a dire financial crisis, so any help offered will be accepted.”
The US also provides Lebanon with assistance via USAID, financial assistance to the military and direct funding to various programmes operating on the ground. According to the US State Department, a vital component of the US – Lebanon policy is to provide US security assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces, which will also strengthen the country’s sovereignty.
Rumours that the wheat being sent from Russia comes from Ukraine have spiked amid reports that grain shipments leaving Crimea have surged since the Russia-Ukraine war. Unfortunately, Lebanon cannot determine the shipment’s origin in advance. Kassis says, “We’ll have to wait and see, but Lebanese prosecutors will look into it if it comes to that and will be ready for it because they’ve already done this before.”
This deal can be seen as a political move from Russia as they advance their geopolitical movement in the Levant region. Kassis believes that Russia assisting Lebanon is an initiative rather than a deal because how the two countries would benefit is incomparable. Lebanon stands to gain much more from the support than Russia.
Listen to the full interview with Ml Sulaimaan Ravat on Sabahul Muslim.