‘Russia-Syria arms trade to go on until banned by UN’

Yak-130 aircraft, one of many weapons supplied to Syria by Russia RIA Novosti / Anton Denisov
The General Director of the state arms export company Rosoboronexport has said that Russia will fully honor its obligations before Syria unless there are international sanctions imposed on Moscow by the UN.

­In an interview with the Interfax news agency, Sergey Chemezov said that fulfilling all earlier signed contracts was important, as this was a “litmus test” for other nations interested in purchasing Russian weapons that demonstrates that Russia is a stable and predictable partner. Chemezov said that so far, the country has been a reliable supplier to all its partners and is ready to sign new deals.

Besides, the executive said that cooperation between Russia and Syria is not violating any international norms or rules. “There are no sanctions whatsoever regarding Syria. If international sanctions are imposed by the UN Security Council, everything will change. And if there are no sanctions, why should we refuse to cooperate with this country? This is business after all,” the agency quoted Chemezov as saying.

Russia was criticized by Western media for delivering weapons to the Syrian authorities headed by President Bashar Assad. US, British and French diplomats also voiced critical comments over the weapons supplies, though they never accused Russia directly.  So far, Moscow has refused to officially reply to these accusations, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a recent annual press conference that his country was not violating any international agreements and all unilateral sanctions are only valid for the nations that imposed them.

The head of Rosoboronexport also said that the agency plans to sign major contracts with Brazil, Argentina and Chile in the nearest future. He also said that Russia has good prospects for establishing cooperation with Colombia and Mexico. At the same time, the official noted that he does not expect new contracts with Russia’s old-time partner in the region – Venezuela. “We have many signed contracts with Venezuela, now we must fulfill them,” Chemezov said. 

In total, Russia’s weapons exports in 2011 amounted to 12 billion US dollars – a record sum, Chemezov said, adding that some 10.7 billion of this was provided by his agency’s deals. The head of Rosoboronexport also said that in 2012, his company will perform better than planned.