Russia admits to supplying arms to Syria

Russia is supplying the regime of Bashar Al Assad with air-defence missile systems and maintenance equipment, its state-run arms dealer has said, quoted by
Anatoly Isaikin, director general of Rosoboronexport said however that the company is not supplying the regime with combat aircraft. He said Russia and Syria previously signed a contract for delivery to Damascus of Yak-130 Mitten jet trainers, but it has been suspended.
The company still has some other outstanding contracts with Syria, Isaikin said, but did not provide details, citing commercial confidentiality.
Syria was the 13th or 14th largest buyer of Russian arms, he said without elaborating.
Russia and the US were involved in a diplomatic war of words last year over Moscow’s arms sales to Syria, after Washington accused Russia of supplying attack helicopters to the Syrian regime.
Moscow denied those accusations, claiming it was merely returning equipment overhauled as part of long-standing contracts with Syria.
In July 2012, US lawmakers passed a bill breaking off contracts between the Pentagon and Rosoboronexport, which they claimed was “arming the oppressive Syrian regime”, the House of Representatives said.
According to US lawmakers, Rosoboronexport supplied nearly $1 billion worth of arms to Syria in 2011, including high-explosives, mortars, sniper rifles, ammunition and attack helicopters which could have been used by Al Assad’s forces to kill civilians. Isaikin said a $4.5 billion arms contract Russia signed with Iraq in 2012 remains intact but has “yet to go into force”.
Cooperation with Iran continues and Russia has resumed dealings with Libya, Isaikin said, adding it has not lost a single contract with Egypt.
He also claimed a Russia-US follow-on contract for the delivery of 12 Mi-171 helicopters to Afghanistan will be carried out, despite the US Congress’ recommendations against cooperation with Rosoboronexport.
The US Senate passed an amendment in December, barring the use of American budget funds to purchase goods – including helicopters for Afghanistan – from Rosoboronexport.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned at the time that the measure might affect the Afghan helicopter deal.
Rosoboronexport was subject to US sanctions from 2006 to 2010 for allegedly providing nations including Iran and Syria with equipment that could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction.
Russia signed a total of 1,309 arms contracts with 65 countries worth $17.6 billion in 2012, 150 percent more than in 2011 in terms of monetary value, Isaikin said.
Russia’s Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service said in January that Moscow sold $15.16 billion worth of arms in 2012, while expanding its foreign clients list.
India is the leading purchaser of Russian arms, with Myanmar, Vietnam, Venezuela and Middle East countries also among the Russian defence industry’s main clients.
The expanded list of clients in 2012 include Afghanistan, Ghana, Oman, and Tanzania.

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