Russia Admits To Selling Syria $1 Billion in Weapons Last Year


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has defended his nation’s decision to sell arms to the Syrian government, reported Reuters, after claiming that the Russian government was obliged to do so under Soviet-era commitments, while asserting that the weapons were meant for defence against external threats only.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has defended his nation’s decision to sell arms to the Syrian government, reported Reuters, after claiming that the Russian government was obliged to do so under Soviet-era commitments, while asserting that the weapons were meant for defence against external threats only.

In an interview published in Egypt’s state al-Ahram Daily on Monday, the Russian Foreign Minister also insisted that the his government was not taking any sides in the Syrian conflict, though he accused foreign powers of arming the opposition to topple the present government.

“We do not side with any faction in Syria’s internal battle,” Lavrov was quoted as saying.

“As for the Russian-Syrian technical military cooperation, it aims to support Syria’s defence capabilities in the face of external political threat, and not to back Bashar al-Assad,” he added.

[quote]“It was the Soviet Union that supplied Syria with main weapons but at present we are in the process of finalizing the implementation of our commitments which are linked primarily to the supply of some air defense systems,” Lavrov went on to say.[/quote]

“These military exports are of a defensive nature and do not conflict with international treaties,” he claimed.

To date, both Russia and China have vetoed at least three UN draft resolutions condemning Assad’s government for its handling of the Syrian uprising. Lavrov made it clear that Russia would continue to oppose an arms embargo in the UN Security Council, claiming that the Syrian rebels would get weapons illegally anyway.

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Speaking to his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Kamel Amr, the Russian Foreign Minister also denied rumours that Russia was conducting secret talks with the US over the fate of Bashar Assad.

[quote]”We never conduct secret talks with anybody about the fate of a third country. Accordingly, we have never entered into secret discussions with the US or any other power about the fate of Syrian President Bashar Assad. It’s the Syrian people, not Assad or his regime, that really matters for Russia in Syria. To help the Syrian people, the Syrian sides must be persuaded to hold fire and enter into a dialogue. This the main point of the Geneva agreements on Syria. Anyone who tries to derail them risks very serious consequences,” he said, as cited by The Voice of Russia.[/quote]

When asked what Moscow saw as the ideal resolution to the conflict, Lavrov said that Russia was committed to an inter-Syrian dialogue, criticising the West for arming rebels in Syria.

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“Several Western and other countries continue to push a UN resolution which would only make matters worse and create conditions for a regime change in Damascus,” he said. “Attempts to bring about a forcible regime change would perpetuate bloodshed in Syria. This is a reality which Russia cannot influence in any way.”

[quote]“The main thing (right now) is saving life. For this, however, the conflicting Syrian sides must be made to start talks and agree on how they carry out a transition to democracy in their country. This is the main point of the Geneva resolutions on Syria. Russia unconditionally supports these resolutions. It is the only participant of the Geneva conference that conducts talks with both the Syrian opposition and the Syrian government,” he added.[/quote]

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