Lebanon–Russia relations

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Lebanon-Russia relations



Lebanon–Russia relations are the bilateral relations between Lebanon and Russia. Lebanon has an embassy in Moscow. Russia has an embassy in Beirut. Both states have cordial relations.

1820s to 1910s

Tsarist Russia tried to influence the region today known as Lebanon. After the Treaty of Adionople in 1829, Russia was the protector of the Greek Orthodox and the Armenian Church inside the Ottoman Empire. Russian diplomats tried to enhance the Russian influence in Lebanon and Syria together with the Ottoman authorities.[1]

1940s to 1970s

The Soviet Union established diplomatic relations with Lebanon on August 3, 1944. Over the years, the two countries signed several agreements, including an agreement on trade and payments (April 30, 1954 and July 16, 1970), on air traffic (February 8, 1966), on cooperation in the tourism industry (June 8, 1970), on procedures for forwarding of diplomatic mail without the escort of diplomatic couriers (February 2, 1962, and February 15—22, 1971).[2]


In 1985, fundamentalists from the Islamic Liberation Organization, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria, kidnapped four Soviet diplomats. The KGB's special branch Alpha Group was despatched to Lebanon and freed the hostages.[3][4][5][6]


After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Lebanon was one of the first states to recognize the Russian Federation as an independent nation in December 1991.[7]

In March 1995 a Russian delegation led by the Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev visited Lebanon. Both states signed a treaty on trade and economic cooperation. In the 1990s, Russia supported the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 425.[8]


In 2004, the then Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, Andrey Denisov, abstained from the vote on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 in order to allow the UN urge Syria, a close ally of Russia, to withdraw all Syrian troops from Lebanon.

After the 2006 Lebanon War Russian troops were deployed to Lebanon for humanitarian purposes. They were not part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.[9][10] Even though Russian troops were not part of UNIFIL, Belarus and Armenia, two close military allies of Russia, contribute troops to this UN peacekeeping force.[11][12]

After the Russo-Georgian War in 2008 and the Russian recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Saad Hariri announced that Lebanon would establish relations with those two Georgian break-away republics and could possibly establish diplomatic relations with those republics.[13]

Additionally, in 2008 it was announced that Russia would gift 10 MiG-29 to Lebanon. A representative of Russia's defense ministry said it was giving the secondhand MiG-29s to Beirut free of charge. The gift was supposed to be part of a defense cooperation deal that would have seen Moscow train Lebanese military personnel. The gift would have been the "biggest upgrade" of the Lebanese military since the end of the Lebanese Civil War. Due to the wishes of the Lebanese government, the deal was later changed into Russian helicopters.[14][15][16][17]

In 2009, a Russian military delegation visited Lebanon in order to inspect the Lebanese military airports on their capability to host Russian MiG-29 fighter aircraft.[18]


In 2010, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will be giving Lebanon a free, unconditional gift of arms and military supplies to strengthen the Lebanese Armed Forces. The package included six Mi-24 attack helicopters, 31 T-72 tanks, 36 130-millimeter artillery pieces and 500,000 shells to be used by the Lebanese artillery. Israeli journalists expected that Russia due to this delivery got the chance to send military consultants and instructors to teach the Lebanese how to use the new military equipment.[19]

In political talks in the year 2010 Russian and Lebanese representatives discussed the possibility of building a number of gas-powered electricity plants in Lebanon, with Russian funding. They would have been connected to the Arab Gas Pipeline.[20]

In April 2015 the head of the Russian Federal Agency on Technical Regulation and Metrology Alexey Abramov and Lebanon's Trade and Economy Minister Alain Hakim, signed a cooperation protocol to boost the Russo-Lebanese bilateral economic and trade relations.[21]

Lebanon-Russia trade relations

In 2013 bilateral trade exceeded $500 million, while Russia exports to Lebanon consist mainly of raw materials (oil and hydrocarbon products) and Lebanon provides Russia predominantly with agricultural products, primarily tobacco.[22] After the Russian counter-sanctions against the EU and NATO countries the Lebanon-Russia trade relations got a boost. In 2014 Russian exports to Lebanon were estimated at $900 million.[23]

Syrian Civil War

Due to the Syrian Civil War, Russia supports the Lebanese dissociation policy.[24]

Lebanese domestic politics today

Russian politicians have cordial relations with several parties of the March 8 Alliance.[25]

One political formation in line with Russian political interests in the Levante is the left-wing Syrian Social Nationalist Party in Lebanon, which holds two seats in the Parliament of Lebanon. The party was founded in 1932 by Antoun Saadeh, a Greek Orthodox Christian from just outside Beirut. Currently many SSNP members are Christian.[26] In December 2014 the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, met the Head of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, MP Assaad Hardan.[27]

The Shi'ite Group Hezbollah is mainly equipped with Russian weapons. Additionally, Hezbollah is known to recruit members for its group in Russia.[28] With the beginning of the Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War, Hezbollah media claimed that Russian soldiers were coordinating their efforts with Hezbollah fighters in the course of the Syrian Civil War.[29] Hezbollah officialls welcomed the Russian intervention in neighbouring Syria.[30] According to roumors, Russian soldiers and Hezbollah fighters have established common operations rooms in Latakia and Damascus.[31] Russia does not consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization and supplies the group with weapons.[32]


  1. Ceasar E. Farah: Politics of Interventionism in Ottoman Lebanon, 1830–1861, London: I.B.Tauris 2000, p. 60.
  2. Content derived from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1969–1978, which is partially in the public domain.
  3. Paul Iddon: The KGB's Counter-Terrorism Operation in Lebanon, suite.io 30 October 2013.
  4. Jon Guttman: Were the KGB Involved in Beirut’s Civil War?, historynet.com 7 November 2013.
  5. 3 Abducted Soviets Freed In Beirut, in: The New York Times 31 October 1985.
  6. Matthew Levitt: Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God, Washington: Georgetown University Press 2013, p. 59.
  7. Andrej Kreutz: Russia in the Middle East: Friend or Foe?, London/Westport (Connecticut): Praeger Security International 2007, p. 34.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Joel C. Rosenberg: Epicenter 2.0: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future, Carol Stream (Illinois): Tyndale House Publishers 2012, p. 249.
  10. Haro Chakmakjian: Russian Troops Make First Mideast Foray In Lebanon For Centuries, spacedaily.com 27 September 2006.
  11. Belarus' Defense Ministry may increase its participation in UN Interim Force in Lebanon, eng.belta.by 27 August 2015.
  12. Lebanon interested in all-round cooperation with Belarus, eng.belta.by 25 August 2015.
  13. Lebanon could recognize S.Ossetia, Abkhazia, abkhazworld.com 10 November 2008.
  14. Stephen J. Cimbala: The George W. Bush Defense Program: Policy, Strategy & War, Lincoln (Nebraska): Potomac Books 2010, p. 179.
  15. David Schenker: Defending Lebanon or Israel?, washingtoninstitute.org 7 January 2010.
  16. Luke Harding/Hugh Macleod: Russia offers fighter jets to Lebanon as gifts, theguardian.com 18 December 2008.
  17. Equipping Lebanon’s... Government?, defenseindustrydaily.com 24 July 2015.
  18. Russian delegation to inspect military airports, dailystar.com.lb 18 November 2009.
  19. Zvi Bar'el: Russia to gift Lebanon with arms, military supplies to bolster army, haaretz.com 17 November 2010.
  20. Walid Choucair: 'Russia and Lebanon: expanding the network of protection, alarabiya.net 19 November 2010.
  21. Lebanon, Russia seek stronger trade ties, strategic-culture.org 30 April 2015.
  22. Ruslan Kostyuk: What is the Kremlin's interest in the Lebanon crisis?, russia-direct.org 7 September 2015.
  23. Lebanon exploring new trade opportunities with Russia, english.al-akhbar.com 15 November 2014.
  24. Ruslan Kostyuk: What is the Kremlin's interest in the Lebanon crisis?, russia-direct.org 7 September 2015.
  25. Russia Works Influence in Lebanon, al-monitor.com (April 2013).
  26. Chris Zambelis: Assad's Hurricane: A Profile of the Paramilitary Wing of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, in: The Jamestown Foundation Terrorism Monitor, Volume: 12, Issue: 6, 20 March 2014.
  27. SSNP delegation visits Bogdanov, nna-leb.gov.lb 12 December 2014.
  28. Steven Emerson: Blood Money: Hezbollah's revenue stream flows through the Americas, steveemerson.com March 2007.
  29. Pro-Hezbollah Media Claims Russia Will work With Kurds in Syria, basnews.com 23 September 2015.
  30. John Davison/Mariam Karouny: Hezbollah welcomes Russian buildup in Syria, says U.S. has failed, reuters.com 25 September 2015.
  31. Muni Katz/Nadav Pollak: Hezbollah's Russian Military Education in Syria, washingtoninstitute.org 24 December 2015.
  32. Jesse Rosenfeld: Russia Is Arming Hezbollah, Say Two of the Group’s Field Commanders, thedailybeast.com 11 January 2016.

See also

This article includes content derived from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1969–1978, which is partially in the public domain.