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MOSCOW, July 24. /ITAR-TASS/. Sanctions in military cooperation that some Western leaders brandish at Russia will rather affect the Europeans, experts say. Besides, the issue has already caused controversy among the Western European leaders. Of all EU members, Britain has taken the most rigid stance on Russia.
On Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron reiterated his call for tougher sanctions against Moscow. In particular, he insists that other European governments should cease weapon supplies to Russia as London, he said, had done unilaterally.
Yet it later came to light that Cameron’s words were only half-true. A report released on Wednesday by a British parliament arms export controls committee has shown that Britain continues exporting weapons to Russia, despite suspension of export licenses for weapon components and dual-purpose products announced as early as in March.
In mid-May, 285 licenses for supplies of products worth a total of £131.5 million ($224.5 million) remained in force. As of May 14, the British authorities had really cancelled only 34 export licenses, all of them in March.
Cameron also resumed pressure on France that supplies Russia with Mistral helicopter carriers. Meanwhile, the first amphibious assault ship Mistral named Vladivostok has already started sea trials. An after body built in Russia and towed off to France is being used in the assembly of the second ship, Sevastopol.
French President Francois Hollande’s determination to supply the first of the two helicopter carriers is unsurprising. The present extent of sanctions did not hamper supplies, he said on Monday.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin believes France will not cancel the contract despite immense pressure from its allies.
“These are billions of euros,” he told journalists. “Freeze of the contract will hundred times as painful for Russia as for France: we have all reasons to demand our money and Russian-built after bodies back.”
Rogozin described sanctions as “an anti-European US technological line: they want to hit Russia, but in fact deliver a colossal blow to the relations within Europe and the European industry”.
Sanctions, if introduced, would harm Europe more than Russia, senior research fellow at the defense research center of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Igor Nikolaychuk, said.
“Military and technical cooperation with Western countries is not a key security issue for Russia,” he told ITAR-TASS. “Russia will pivot towards other markets.”
The West should bear in mind that all contracts in this field were mutually beneficial, the expert added, and their cancellation would hit the European economies. "Who will compensate for these losses to Europe?” he wondered.
The expert also doubted the efficiency of potential prohibitive measures.
“I have just talked to friends of mine who work in a military industrial company affected by the US sanctions imposed on July 17. Nothing has changed in the way they work. The US explained that sanctions concerned only the companies but not the employees who continue to go abroad unhampered as they used to.”
A total stop of military cooperation was impossible and would not benefit the West, Deputy Dean of the Faculty for World Economy and International Affairs at the Higher School of Economics, Andrei Suzdaltsev, said. Russia’s military cooperation with EU countries is of modest size, but has very lucrative deals such as Mistral supplies and other promising contracts with French companies that they do not want to forfeit, Suzdaltsev said.
“Europe understands that much of what Russia might lose because of sanctions will be produced in Russia, as there is a tight schedule of the Russian army modernization anyway,” he said. “Besides, any military and technical cooperation is also a political factor - it is a window to Russia, a potential instrument of influence which Europeans do not want to lose."
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