Russia to sign US$1 billion defense deal with Indonesia

Russia's military clout in Asia was set for a boost Thursday when President Vladimir Putin witnesses the signing of a US$1 billion defense deal that will help Indonesia purchase dozens of helicopters, tanks and submarines. The two nations also hope that, by strengthening military and economic ties, they will be able to counterbalance growing US influence in global affairs, analysts said. Putin, making a one-day stopover to the world's most populous Muslim nation, will provide Indonesia's cash-strapped government with a US$1 billion loan, repayable over the next 15 years, officials said. "Part of this is to reduce our dependency on the United States," which was formerly the country's largest supplier of weaponry, said Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono.