We need help maintaining our Russian planes, Dr M tells Putin in bilateral talks

Zurairi Ar
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet for bilateral talks in Singapore November 13, 2018. — Picture courtesy of the Department of Information Malaysia

SINGAPORE, Nov 13 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has asked Russia today for help in maintaining the country’s fleet of Russian planes.

The prime minister met the Russian president tonight in a bilateral talk at the sidelines of the Asean Summit 2018 here, where he also mentioned the trade situation and the Syrian civil war.

“As you know, we have bought a number of Russian aircrafts,” Dr Mahathir told Vladimir Putin through a translator.

“And I think we need to learn more about how to maintain and repair the aircraft.”

In July, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu had revealed that only four out of 28 Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30MKM and MiG-29 fighter jets owned by the Royal Malaysian Air Force can fly.

Dr Mahathir could also be heard mentioning the Syrian civil war to Putin, just before the session was closed to the media.

Putin had earlier praised the trade relation between the two countries, which has seen a rise of over 60 per cent in the first eight months.

“Relations between Russia and Malaysia have been developing and we have been doing quite well.

“A lot more can still be done and I think a lot more could have been done during the previous years,” Putin said through his translator, when commencing the talk.

“Our trade is quite good but we can do better,” Dr Mahathir replied.

It is unknown what else was discussed during the talk, as both sides had yet to address the media afterwards.

Earlier this week, Minister of Foreign Affairs Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah did not discount that the prime minister may bring up the topic of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, following new evidence implicating Russia.

He also confirmed one key issue that would be discussed with Putin: Security in the Korean peninsula.

Putin is in Singapore to attend the Asean Summit 2018. The third Asean-Russia Summit is scheduled for tomorrow.

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