In a forthcoming book, New Zealand author Clive Lind says at one time Russia offered a MiG jet, tanks and even a nuclear submarine as payment for some butter. Then-Prime Minister Jim Bolger and New Zealand Dairy Board Chair Dryden Spring told Lind after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia was cash-poor and owed New Zealand $100 million for butter and other dairy products. At a 1993 meeting, Russian deputy prime minister Alexander Shokhin first offered the MiG, then the tanks and finally the submarine saying they could use it to generate electricity for a coastal city. New Zealand is a non-nuclear country.
Lind reports the offer was “politely declined” and a series of payments was worked out with Russia eventually paying about $30 million (U.S.) of the $100 million owed. Bolger notes the world was awash with dairy products at the time and New Zealand needed the sale as much as Russia needed the butter.
Lind’s book, “Till the Cows Came Home” is due out next month, it tells the details of the New Zealand dairy industry which led up to the creation of Fonterra Cooperative, now the largest dairy exporter in the world.
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