Feb 11, Colombo: Sri Lanka is currently exploring the possibility of purchasing military equipment from Moscow, Russian Ambassador to Colombo, Yury Matery has said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
Speaking to the RIA Novosti on the occasion for the Diplomatic Worker’s Day, the Ambassador said Military-technical cooperation between Russia and Sri Lanka has been steadily developing over the years.
During his recent visit to Sri Lanka, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced Moscow’s readiness to continue to supply the island with the weapons necessary to ensure its defense capability and maintain the country's security.
The Ambassador recalled that Russia rendered assistance to the Sri Lankan authorities in this area during the military operation against terrorists from the Tamil Elam Liberation Tigers organization arming the Sri Lankan Army with domestic helicopters of various modifications, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles and small arms.
“Our partners are currently exploring the possibility of purchasing military equipment. Russia is ready, if Sri Lanka is interested, to put here (Colombo) modern types of weapons,” the Ambassador said.
Responding to queries on plans of Russian business in the island nation, the Ambassador said during the discussions with Russian Foreign Minister, the Sri Lankan leadership expressed interest in conducting exploration and production of gas and oil in the northern part of the island, in the Gulf of Mannar.
Recalling that the initial exploration of the field was carried out with the help of the USSR in the 70s of the last century, the envoy said the relevance of this issue lies with Sri Lanka’s desire to ensure its fuel and energy independence.
He said although Sri Lanka is extremely interested in attracting the most experienced and financially stable investors to such complex tasks and the Russian Federation and its oil and gas companies are seen as very reliable partners, one-sided desire is not enough and the issue requires detailed study.
Ambassador Matery said the Russian-Sri Lankan intergovernmental commission on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation is called upon to promote the growth of investments and bilateral trade.
“We consider it possible to pay special attention to the issues of Russian business participation in large industrial and infrastructure projects on the island and attracting investments from Russia, in particular, in the field of hydrocarbon exploration and production, in preparation for the next meeting of the commission, which may be held in Moscow in the second half of 2020.”
When asked whether Russia has any plans to build a nuclear power plant (NPP) in Sri Lanka as it is building nuclear power plants in India and Bangladesh, the Ambassador said Russia could build a NPP in Sri Lanka someday, considering the growing energy demand in the country.
The authorities of Sri Lanka are supporters of clean energy. The main challenge the state is facing is a soft transition from existing dirty energy sources such as coal, oil to clean gas and alternative energy sources.
“The issue of using an atom is very promising in this regard. Work in this direction has already begun. In 2017, for the first time, consultations were held between the Russian state corporation Rosatom and the relevant Sri Lankan departments on a draft intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy proposed by the Russian side. Work in this direction is underway,” he said.
“A nuclear power plant is the end result of interstate cooperation on the use of a peaceful atom. Given interest and sustained economic development, Sri Lanka has seen a significant increase in energy consumption. In this regard, the idea of building a nuclear power plant may well be the subject of discussion and its implementation is possible in the long term,” Ambassador Matery said.
Speaking about Sri Lanka’s request for Russia’s assistance to fight terrorism following the Easter Sunday attacks, the Russian envoy said the cooperation between the two countries in the field of countering international terrorism has never stopped.
“The issues of counter-terrorism cooperation are always present on the foreign policy agenda of our negotiations with Sri Lankan partners, who are offered various forms of cooperation in this area, which finds a positive response from them. In particular, Russia expressed support for the Sri Lankan leadership in its efforts to establish and hold accountable the organizers of the inhuman attacks that were carried out here in April last year.”