Officials comment on U.S. sanctions on 3 Russian companies

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on 24 foreign companies, including 3 from Russia, for selling arms to Syria and Iran. Russian officials say the companies have done nothing wrong.

Sergey Ivanov, who is also the head of the export control commission, says the companies have never violated any international laws concerning non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Russian Foreign Ministry's called the decision over sanctions unjustified and said it considers the move as an attempt to extend the US national law on foreign companies.

“Russia’s export control is very strict and fully complies with its international obligations,” Russian State Duma’s International Affairs Committee Head, Konstantin Kosachyov stressed.

The companies affected include the state run arms exporter Rosoboroneksport, Kolomna Design Bureau and the Tula Design Bureau.

The paper says they’ve broken US laws banning the sale of equipment capable of helping the development of weapons of mass destruction to Iran or Syria.

The sanctions ordered under the 2000 Iran Non-Proliferation Act prevent the U.S. firms from working with the affected companies for 2 years.

The U.S. officials say the sanctions were imposed after the US obtained credible information on transfers that happened within the past 2 years and are largely symbolic.

Along with the Russian firms, Chinese and North Korean Companies have also been on the sanctions list.

However, the official representative of Rosoboronexport Valery Kartavtsev says the company has not received any official information on the issue.

“The Federal State Unitary Enterprise Rosoboronexport has not received any official information concerning sanctions imposed against it by the US State Department. In this context, it does not have any opportunity to comment on the issue. It [Rosoboronexport] is well known as an official state mediator for exporting weapons. The company abides by both international law and Russian national law in its international economic activity. I would like to underline that throughout all the history of Rosoboronexport we have never been accused of violating these terms,” said Mr Kartavtsev.

Maksim Pyadushkin, the Editor-in-Chief of the Russia & CIS Observer Quarterly expained that “these sanctions were imposed due to co-operation with Syrian and Iran. It's not the first time the U.S. government imposes sanctions against Russian companies. Few months ago same sanctions were imposed against Rosoboroneksport and Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer. It was also because of the co-operation with Iran. I think main reason for the sanctions was the contract with Syria because in 2006 concluded several contracts with Syria for deliveries of various arms, mainly anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. Israel and the U.S. protested and severely opposed these deals. Nevertheless Russia approved these weapons as defensive.”

“This time the sanctions will have no real impact on the Russian companies because neither the Kolomna Design nor the Tula Design Bureau do not use American companies for making their arms. They do not have any contacts with the American companies. The main clients of the Russian companies are the countries of the so called third world,” he indicated.

In general, there are mixed views on why the U.S. is reportedly imposing sanctions on Russian companies. Vice President of the Geopolitics Academy in Moscow, Leonid Ivashov said it is connected to the Israeli defeat in the conflict with Hezbollah and tough competition in the weapons market.

“There are several issues here for the USA. First of all, it is a sort of a revenge for the Hezbollah victory in its conflict with Israel. Israel dominated in the military hardware, but that hardware suffered most during the conflict. Today, success or failure with Israeli actions is estimated by the number of casualties and the armour, and the distraction of Israeli tanks is often connected with Russian or Soviet anti-tank weapons. Although there is no proof that Russia supplied its weapons to Hezbollah directly or through third-party countries, some old Soviet weapons were found there [in the region], and some said that Russian companies somehow participated in [Hezbollah] resistance to Israel. That is the first issue, it is revenge. Second, it is a tough competition in the arms market, especially today, when Rosoboronexport and Russian arm manufactories grow stronger in the new fields of this market. It is the attempt on the behalf of the USA to damage the image of Russian companies,” stressed Mr Ivashov.