Bangladesh PM to ink $1.5bn arms, nuclear deals in Russia

Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will sign defence and nuclear energy deals worth $1.5 billion during a three-day visit to Russia which begins on Monday, the government announced.

Hasina flew out the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Monday at the head of a 54-member delegation to Moscow where she is expected to hold talks with President Vladimir Putin at his Kremlin offices on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told reporters a total of nine accords would be signed during the trip, including a $500 million credit agreement to help fund construction of Bangladesh's first nuclear power plant.

Moni also said Bangladesh would use Russian government credit to enable it to buy a range of defence equipment.

"The amount of the defence purchase deals that are going to be signed is one billion dollars," she told reporters in comments broadcast on Bangladeshi television.

The foreign minister did not give details of the equipment or of the terms of the repayment agreement.

But the mass-circulation Prothom Alo daily said fighter jets, helicopters, armoured vehicles, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers and radar equipment would all be included in the package.

A.N.M Muniruzzaman, an analyst at the Dhaka-based Institute of Peace and Security Studies, told AFP it was the biggest defence deal ever to be signed by Bangladesh which gained independence in 1971.

Bangladesh, one of the world's most impoverished countries, has been expanding its defence capabilities in recent years, building a new air base close to neighbouring Myanmar and adding new frigates to its navy.

In November 2011 it signed a deal with Russian state-owned nuclear agency Rosatom to build a nuclear plant in the northwestern town of Rooppur which will have two 1,000 megawatt reactors at a cost of up to $2 billion each.

Officials said Bangladesh needs the reactors because its natural gas reserves could run out within a decade.

  • COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more 21 hours ago
    COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more

    Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are … Continue reading →

  • Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future 23 hours ago
    Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future

    It’s more than just its inherent speed, or the whooshing noise that fills the cabin like a school choir jamming with James Hetfield. It’s what it represents in an industry full of skeptics. It’s a portal into the future – a time capsule left by some mad scientist born decades too soon. It’s something that shouldn’t exist. And yet it does.

  • 919 reasons to love: Flickr photo of the day Sat, Apr 19, 2014
    919 reasons to love: Flickr photo of the day

    We've brought you the drive video of the $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder -- an 887-hp hybrid supercar with two electric motors working in harmony with a big 4.6-liter V-8. But how about this? Porsche's hybrid Le Mans racer -- the 919 Hybrid, sent to us by Kevin Leech. Get on board with electrification, folks. Because it's taking over the world.