The US Senate has prohibited to the US Department of Defence to buy weapons from Russia’s arms exporter – Rosoboronexport. According to the US Senate the reason is that Moscow supplies weapons to Syria. Experts hope that US President Barack Obama would veto the Senate proposal.
The Russian side has repeatedly assured the international community that it does not supply weapons to Syria, the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily recalls. Moscow stresses that it is completing obligations under the previously signed contracts on the repair of military equipment that the country has and does not provide any other assistance to Damascus other than humanitarian. Russia’s position on the Syrian conflict is well known in the world: the situation in Syria should be settled exclusively through diplomatic methods. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, commenting on the US Senate decision, said that “the entry into force of the US ban on contracts with Rosoboronexport could harm US-Russian cooperation.”
Experts interviewed by the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper are convinced the decision of the US senators may inflict not only political, but also direct material damage to military cooperation between Moscow and Washington.
The Novye Izvestia daily emphasises that as a result of the ban, Pentagon’s purchases of the Russian Mi-17 combat helicopters for Afghanistan worth about 1 billion dollars could be put at risk.
Director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Ruslan Pukhov in a commentary to the newspaper calls the decision of the US senators illogical. “It will create more problems for the Americans who will soon have to leave Afghanistan and hand over the responsibilities related to the country’s security to the Afghan people,” the expert said. In his view, the retraining of pilots and maintenance personnel in the event of replacement of the Russian equipment with Western will take too long and will cost the American treasury much more that the use of low-maintenance and familiar to the Afghans Mi-17 helicopters. “This is why the Pentagon opposes breaking the helicopter deal with Moscow,” Pukhov stated.
The newspaper recalls that the US government has already used to suspend deals with Rosoboronexport – it was done in 2006–2010 over suspicions of the transfer of missile technology to Iran. The restrictions were lifted in 2010 after Russia supported the UN Security Council sanctions against the country.
Rosoboronexport has not officially commented the decision of the UAS Senate. A Kommersant source close to the Russian military-technical cooperation system said that “all the deliveries to Syria were legal and the sold weapons were purely defensive.” He recalled that the UN Security Council has not imposed any sanctions on Damascus.
Another source of the publication believes that after the re-election of Barack Obama, escalating of tensions with Russia would run contrary to his interests. “There is the hope that the US president would veto the proposal of the US senators,” he said. “This will reduce tensions in the bilateral relationship.” In any case, Russian military experts believes that the American ban will not affect the earlier concluded contracts, and in the future it will be possible to get round it. Director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Ruslan Pukhov offers such an option: “We should exclude Rosoboronexport from the scheme and deliver the equipment through another intermediary.”