‘Against US security interests’: Moscow bewildered over new sanctions on 8 defense & aviation firms

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said it is “bewildered and disappointed” over new US sanctions targeting eight Russian companies, including defense firms and pilot training academies, which the State Department claims engage in “proliferation” activity with Iran, North Korea and Syria.

While the restrictions will cause “no serious problems” for Russia, they undermine the fight against global terrorism, which Washington has been claiming is its priority, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement posted on Facebook.

“This step runs counter to the statements we hear from Washington that emphasize the fight against terrorism, in particular in Syria, where it has gained a foothold. On the contrary, it is completely at odds with such declarations and undermines the prospects of setting up comprehensive multilateral cooperation to destroy Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS,ISIL] and other terrorist groups that pose a threat to all countries, including the US,” Zakharova said.

“Washington again does the bidding of those who made a consistent destruction of Russia-US cooperation their main priority. These people have long been searching for enemies in the place where they don’t really exist. Such an approach does not obviously meet the security interests of the US,” Zakharova said.

The Russian companies have been sanctioned by Washington over their alleged engagement in nuclear proliferation activity with Iran, North Korea and Syria, a source in the State Department told RIA Novosti on Saturday.

The sanctions have been introduced as a result of regular assessments, as required by US law, the source said, adding that the measure is not connected to wider economic restrictions put in force since 2014 over the situation in Ukraine and Crimea.

Companies such as Rosoboronexport and Aviaexport, as well as several aviation training centers and academies, have been included on the new US sanctions list, RIA reported.

On Friday, the Trump administration announced sanctions on 30 foreign companies and people from 10 countries accused of engaging in nuclear proliferation activity.

"These determinations underscore that the United States continues to regularly impose sanctions under existing authorities, as warranted, against entities and individuals that engage in proliferation activity with Iran, North Korea, and Syria," the State Department said in a statement.

Apart from Russia, entities from China, North Korea and the United Arab Emirates have been sanctioned, with the restrictions to stay in effect for two years.

The 11 entities, largely from China, were sanctioned "specifically for transfers to Iran's missile program," the State Department said. Nineteen more companies or people have been accused of having "transferred to, or acquired from, Iran, North Korea, or Syria goods, services, or technology... or other items that could make a material contribution to the development of weapons of mass destruction or missile proliferation."