No red light on Russian arms shipments to Syria

Advanced trainer and light attack aircraft Yak-130 (RIA Novosti / Anton Denisov)
The Russian state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, has not stopped the sale of weapons to Syria, while the company has suffered losses from suspended contracts with Libya.

­The exporter is obliged to comply with all contractual obligations as no sanctions have been declared yet, Rosoboronexport General Director Anatoly Isaikin told journalists on Wednesday. He added that there have yet to be any instructions or directives from the Russian government to that effect.

Cooperation with Damascus in the military and technical realm has not been suspended. There were arms supplies to Syria during the previous year, and they are continuing now as well. These are weapons of a wide variety Isaikin stated, though he chose not to elaborate any further. “Our agreements have conditions of confidentiality, so I cannot speak about the nomenclature,” he noted.  

The arms monopoly chief only mentioned the training and combat aircraft Yak-130, saying the company will continue to supply it, as well as their training simulators, to Syria. “Of course, there are also supplies of military hardware,” he added.

Meanwhile, Rosoboronexport has estimated its losses from suspended contracts with Libya number at around $4 billion. After the sanctions were introduced against Tripoli, the company stopped its military and technical cooperation with Muammar Gaddafi’s government. The losses that followed concern both the interrupted contracts as well as deals that could have potentially been signed.  

Last week, President Dmitry Medvedev imposed sanctions on Libya as Russia joined the UN Security Council resolution 1973 against the Libyan regime, which was adopted in March. In accordance with international agreements, Russia is not selling weapons to Libya now, Isaikin confirmed. 

­No fear of Chinese competition

­Nevertheless, Rosoboronexport’s contract portfolio topped $36 billion in the first half of 2011. The company supplied $5.9 billion worth of weapons and military hardware to foreign customers during the first six months of this year. It expects arms exports for this year to exceed $9 billion.  

Despite the tense situation in several regions, first and foremost in North Africa, the Russian arms exporter is holding its ground. The company even managed to conclude a number of “quick contracts,” Isaikin noted.

He also stressed Moscow is not afraid of increased competition from China. “Russia has its own niches on the international market, including in Latin America,” RIA Novosti quoted him as saying. Moscow has long-term contracts in some Latin American countries, including Venezuela and Brazil. With the latter country, the arms exporter has concluded a contract on supplies of combat helicopters. It also plans to establish joint enterprises in Brazil.