Sri Lanka: Defence Deals: Russian Ship — The white elephant (Part Two)


“Worms” within the system are still eating the duramen of the nation. Therefore the country turned into the destitute isle. It is not only the laymen and laywomen in this country but the security officials are also pleading with President Sirisena to stop this putrefied Defence deal and conduct the impartial investigation to evaluate the real needs of the country prevailing at this juncture.

by Nilantha Ilangamuwa

Click here to read Part One of this series 

( September 12, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The convulsive news is that the Russian Ship deal has almost been finalized. Involved parties are waiting for their share; the people in Sri Lanka will have to pay the price for years. Ninety-nine percent of this alleged corrupted and despicable deal has been completed; the moment of signing the contract will come in no time. Then the “matter finished”. The tear drop shaped isle pulling into another nightmare by these third parties.

The bad news is that most of the defence items purchased during the present government are having serious infirmities. According to reliable sources, the ship manufactured in Goa, India received by Sri Lanka Navy recently has many shortcomings, and the initial complaint has been made officially. Intercepting equipment bought from Israel gave a hard time to the officials from the moment it was setup.

The bottom line is that nothing will be truly successful towards the benefit of the country if the authority enjoys impunity due to the protection of those who know nothing about the subject-matter while sidelining and intimidating those who understand and are committed to the subject-matter. In Sri Lanka, unfortunately, country riffraff are manipulating the system of Public Administration.

‘The allegedly corrupt deal, the Russian Ship Deal, must be stopped as it is going to earn nothing but bad reputation to the country and the leadership’, one of senior serving security officers told this writer when I started this investigation.

As the Minister of Defence, that the foremost responsibility rests with President Maithripala Sirisena who celebrated his 66th birthday a few days ago along with his party which is interestingly was also born on the same day. The President kept on saying he has zero tolerance for corruption. That is why the majority of this country voted for him.

However, “worms” within the system are still eating the duramen of the nation. Therefore the country turned into the destitute isle. It is not only the laymen and laywomen in this country but the security officials are also pleading with President Sirisena to stop this putrefied Defence deal and conduct the impartial investigation to evaluate the real needs of the country prevailing at this juncture. The bottom line is nothing can justify corruption.

There are many urgent requirements rather than buying a worthless ship which is obviously going to give extra burden to the people of the country.

Take the situation in Colombo during the monsoon time. The world witnessed how the rescue operatives were struggling to give life to our countrymen and countrywomen who were drowning during the floods. Fatal experiences of land sliding, shameful disaster in Meethotamulla, flood in north and east, Deadly blast in Salawa ammunition storage, the dangerous geographical situation over Uma Oya, and historical deadly drought due to which millions of people are suffering without drinking water, are immediate threatening issues prevailing. Those are indeed a part of the national security in this country.

Isn’t it important to ask the experts on the subjects to recommend immediate requirements of the country rather than spending the state credit to buy the white elephant, the Ship? There is equipment that can be replaced in the Ship imported from the Rosoboronexport if there is an urgent need to use the remaining amount of the state credit offered by the Federation of Russia.

The country has almost zero updated surveillance and communication facilities to manage the traffic and prevent road accidents. The country is lacking in facilities to ensure reliable weather predictions. The country compared to other countries is far behind in maritime security and reliable trade. Those immediate requirements need to be fulfilled immediately if the government is honest in its promised mission to improve the condition of the people in this country.

That is why the Russian Ship; the bad deal from an old friend, must be stopped and the remaining state credit used to fulfill the most urgent requirements prevailing in the nation.

USSR (Russia), an old friend walked long path together

Referring to the facts and figures of history it is very clear that Sri Lanka in the past requested the military assistance from various countries. Out of dozens, India, Pakistan, Ukraine, China, Israel, United States of America and Russian Federation are regular providers. Most of them not only sold their products but also sent the technicians and human resources to the country or facilitated selected Sri Lankan officers to get training in particular jurisdictions.

Russian Federation with its state owned mediator has been Sri Lanka’s long term friend, which assisted the country regardless of the governing parties in power. It was in 1971 during the April insurrection by the youth that the then USSR sent military equipment and personnel, including trainers to train then Ceylon security forces to crush the rebellion.

Recently declassified groundbreaking account compiled by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) indicated how Moscow helped to eliminate the first JVP insurrection. “… Moscow furnished five MIG-17 fighters, two helicopters, and ten armoured personnel carriers, together with technicians and advisers who returned to the Soviet Union after a short stay. The Soviets have also provided modest quantities of bombs, rockets, and machine guns.” (Quoted-CIA Archives)

Sri Lanka’s friendship with USSR as well as later with Russian Federation remained genteel, until third party agents who earned no reputation started influencing the country’s most sensitive area, – national security. Involvements of those third parties were facilitated through Sri Lanka- Russia Friendship Association and the Sri Lankan mission in Moscow currently headed by a multi-billionaire.

According to the sources in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he has never been a career diplomat but well-placed businessman who is currently developing his own plantation somewhere in the Island nation. In addition to that, he is facilitating most of the third party agents who are playing mediating role in almost every defence deal between two nations and in return he will receive his share in millions. He, who is holding the crystal ball, is the man of the match, sources in the Moscow mission said.

Current ambassador’s tenure expired in last August but he was lucky to get a few months extension by claiming to finalize the Russian Ship deal and other related deals, reliable sources said.

The question is; what is the mechanism that our Ministry of Foreign affairs is using to evaluate each mission maintained at public cost. Who is the person who played the role to extend his tenure? What are the benefits this network of a bunch of alleged plunderers of the nation is going to achieve?

Unlike other missions in various jurisdictions, the Sri Lanka Mission in Moscow was playing a significant role since the beginning. But, those who are currently managing the mission are damaging the reputation of the country.

The Narration of the Deal

It is very important to know how these defence deals are being conducted.

Months after the end of the Civil War, in 2009, the Federation of Russian offered a state credit worth 300 Million US dollars to buy necessary defence related equipment to the post-war Island nation – the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

The then President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Minister of Defence, under the guidance of the Secretary of Defence, Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the architect of the deep state, accepted the offer by the Russian Federation to buy needed military equipment. Many suggestions were submitted through many proposals, but the then Secretary of Defence expressed concerns on three major issues including possible improvements of the surveillance facilities and bombing system.

The first deal the Government of Sri Lanka as the buyer bought was 14 MI171 passenger helicopters which included 2 VVIPs via the local agent of Rossoboronexport. MI171 brand-new helicopters were brought to Sri Lanka in 2013; the cost of the deal was around 146 million US dollars. Therefore, 154 Million USD of the state credit was remaining at the end of the business. It was fair deal mediated by one Priyantha Silva, who suddenly passed away three years back. Priyantha was able to maintain a credible and authentic business relationship with Russia and he has maintained the reputation of the country as the local agent of Rossoboronexport.

The cold war between arms dealers in Sri Lanka began with the expiration of Priyantha, and many were eager to grab the local agency of Rossoboronexport.

Meanwhile, the new government came into power in 2015. The system was overrun by party politics and their agents. Some of those who were with the former President Rajapaksa disguised themselves as the men of President Maithripala Sirisena. The origins of Russian Ship deal was initiated during this period.

This is the time when Capital Maharaja along with their agents including those who were disguised as journalists jumped into the agenda to finalize the Russian Ship deal. The Sri Lankan Embassy in Moscow knew each bolt and nut of everything, but no one was there in the embassy to stand up for the sake of this high debt island nation but everyone concerned was pursuing their own shares in the deal.

Despite all business realms, newly elected President Maithripla Sirisena received an official invitation from the Russian President Vladimir Putin for a state visit. This was a landmark visit not only to the leadership and the government but also those who are behind the screens. Sri Lankan ambassador in Moscow played a despicable role to utilize his favourable men to accompany President Sirisena.

However, President Sirisena seems to have managed the state visit appropriately and President Putin offered him another state credit worth around 400 million USD to buy defence related equipment to enhance the national security of Sri Lanka.

No doubt, President’s Russian visit was successful. It has increased the goodwill relationship between two countries. But the bottom line is that those third party agents were also able to establish their relationship by accompanying the President as state delegates. Here is the point where the President Sirisena should investigate the roles being played by those are in his staff, who formerly worked in Capital Maharaja. It is highly doubtful by now, that the motivation behind those who are controlling the President’s media and his state visits are in the interests of Sri Lanka.

Statistically, out of two state credits offered by Russia, around 546 million USD is remaining. Most of the dealers are guzzling screaming to play the mediating role to grab the unaccountable and zero transparent percentage. Suggestions after suggestions; Proposals after Proposals are being placed before the officials in the Ministry of Defence, Colombo.

The remaining amounts of the state credits are focusing on three major areas;

First, of course, the much-discussed buying of a Russian Ship, Geparad 5.1 at the cost of buying three such ships in an open market. Second; yet another possible corrupt aircraft deal where the third party agents along with the blessing of incumbent chair of Sri Lanka air force are trying to buy 6 SU30, a twin-engine, two-seat super maneuverable fighter aircraft developed by the aviation cooperation in Russia; Third plan to buy 33 module BTR-82A type armoured personnel carriers are in the loop of the deal.

Out of those three, buying 33 BTR-82A is reasonably valuable and useful deal, as it is definite requirement of the Sri Lankan Forces in the UN Peacekeeping forces. That will, of course if the deal is completed without corruption, earn revenue.

The Russian Ship deal is mother of all deals in the agenda. Once it is done, others will be matter of time, and the mood of the leadership. By the observed symptoms of motivation of those who are around the leadership one cannot deny the old expression of the folks in this country; “anyone can deceive the country and the people… forever.”

There is an interesting story behind the deal of buying 6 SU30, in which the present Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force played a peculiar role. Let’s unveil the story behind SU30 in the next part of this series.

To be continued

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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