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Sudan Tribune

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Ethiopia orders 200 Ukrainian tanks worth $100 million

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

June 10, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia has bought over 200 tanks from Ukrspecexport SC, the Ukrainian state-controlled arms exporter, Interfax-Ukraine reported on Thursday.

The Ukrainian arms exporter signed a contract with the Defense Ministry of Ethiopia, one of the largest contracts signed by the weapons exporter in over 15 years of operation.

The tanks are a relatively new type of military hardware equipped with a modernized power plant.

The company said that the tanks “are equipped with modernized propulsion, guided weapons and a reactive armor system.”

The T-72 tank was originally produced in the Soviet Union n the 1970`s. It was widely exported to many African, Asian and Middle Eastern states. Ethiopia has already operated the T-72, 60 of which were purchased from Yemen in 2003, according to Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment.

Ethiopia’s tense relations with neighbouring Eritrea since a bloody two-year border war over ten years ago means that it has looked to build up its military in order to secure its borders.

During the conflict over their disputed border with Eritrea, Ethiopia increased its stocks of T-55 tanks and artillery pieces, including BM-21 122m multiple rocket launchers and 122 mm D-30 towed howitzers, according to Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment.

Addis Ababa has recently threatened neighboring Eritrea with a military attack, accusing the Red Sea nation of sponsoring violence and continuous attempts to destabilize Ethiopia.

Tens of thousands of troops of the two countries remain dug-in and deadlocked along an 800-kilometer front.

Eritrea, formally a province of Ethiopia, gained its independence in 1993, after a 30 year-long guerrilla war.

(ST)