Hariri office confirms Lebanon accepted Russian military aid
Lebanon has accepted an offer for Russian military aid to its police forces, the office of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Monday, denying reports the offer was turned down.
The Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported on Monday that Russian ammunition was offered to Lebanon's US-backed army, but was turned down.
A Lebanese military source said the army had declined the offer, but said it was for technical reasons linked to the type of ammunition used by the army and had nothing to do with politics.
Hariri's media office said the al-Akhbar article was "devoid of truth".
"The press office clarifies that this is not true and that the Russian side was informed of the acceptance to receive the donation, from which the Internal Security Forces in the Ministry of Interior will benefit," it said in a statement.
The Lebanese police force will receive millions of bullets as part of the Russian military aid.
A senior Lebanese political source told Reuters that US pressure could have influenced the military's decision to decline Russian military aid.
The US has provided more than $1.5 billion in support to Lebanon's army since 2006 and is the military's largest donor.
Earlier this year, Russia offered a wide-ranging military pact to Lebanon reported to have included a $1 billion line of credit to Lebanon's military for arms and other military purchases.
Russian forces are deployed widely in neighbouring Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad, along with powerful Lebanese movement Hizballah.
The United States can impose sanctions on countries that engage in "significant transactions" with the Russian military under a 2017 law.
Agencies contributed to this report.
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