Russia May Revise Ban on Syrian Arms Exports - Minister
29 May, 2013
Russia is disappointed with the EU move to end the ban on arms sales to the Syrian opposition and may reconsider its own commitments to restrictions on weapons deliveries to the war-torn country, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday.
“Every decision has two sides. If one side lifts restrictions, the other may consider itself free from observing earlier commitments,” Shoigu said at a joint news conference in Helsinki with his Finnish counterpart, Carl Haglund.
Russia has been harshly criticized by the West for reported deliveries of six S-300 air defense systems to Syria under a 2010 contract rumored to be worth $900 million.
Moscow, however, has insisted that such deliveries would be legal under international law and has denied supplying Syria with offensive weapons that can be used to kill civilians.
Before the start of the rebellion against Bashar Assad’s regime in March 2011, Syria, the largest importer of Russian arms in the Middle East, had shown interest in purchasing various armored vehicles, Yak-130 combat trainer aircraft and Iskander-E tactical ballistic missiles.
Moscow decided at the time to hold off delivering offensive weapons to the Syrian regime on worries that it could upset the balance of power in the Middle East.