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International relations

Russia locks onto Southeast Asia to boost arms sales

Flexible payment options help win orders outside US-China divide

Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets rehearse for an air show in August 2019. Indonesia looks to buy 11 of these Russian planes, paying for them partly with rubber and other goods.   © Reuters

JAKARTA/MOSCOW -- Battered by protracted Western sanctions, Russia has intensified efforts to sell arms to Southeast Asia, looking to lift its economy and diversify diplomatic relations in an increasingly polarized world.

Lyudmila Vorobieva, Moscow's ambassador to Jakarta, expressed high hopes this month for Indonesian purchases of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets. The Southeast Asian country had signed a contract to buy 11 of these planes for the equivalent of $1.1 billion back in 2018, though the U.S. has hinted at sanctions on Indonesia should the deal go through.

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