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Russia concerned over Soviet-type weapons delivery to Syrian opposition — foreign ministry

Romanian media reports touched upon the supply of large batches of Soviet-type weapons by the US side from Romania and Bulgaria for transfer to Syrian opposition

MOSCOW, April 21. /TASS/. Russia is concerned over Romanian media reports on the supply of large batches of Soviet-type weapons by the US side from Romania and Bulgaria for transfer to Syrian opposition groups, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told TASS on Thursday.

"We carefully studied this information," the spokeswoman said. ‘We have no grounds to leave it without attention as the Romanian media mentioned as its source the publication of April 8 this year in the reputable military edition Jane’s Defense, which has a broad reading audience. This article is based on the data posted on the US governmental portal Federal Business Opportunities and lifts the veil over one of the cases of the illegal supplies of ‘Soviet weapons’ to the world’s crisis regions with the use of the possibilities of private intermediary companies for implementing contracts on trade in various types of lethal weapons produced under expired Soviet licenses," the spokeswoman said.

"Indicatively, the orders for the deliveries of ‘explosive’ materials to the Jordanian port of Aqaba by shipping companies were placed on behalf of the US Military Sealift Command," the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

"Later, an update was issued to detail the nature of cargo and its weight - 994 tons - half of which was required for unloading at the military wharf Agalar of the Turkish port of Tasuku near the Syrian border," she added.

Judging from the information given in the article, a large batch of Soviet-type weapons was shipped by sea with Romania’s assistance through Turkey and Jordan to the so-called "Syrian rebels" fighting against the regime of legitimately elected President Bashar Assad.

"The range of shipped military products was quite wide, from traditional Kalashnikov assault rifles, grenade launchers and hand-held antitank systems to armaments of various designations," the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

"What is obvious is the illegal re-export of unlicensed types of Soviet military products," Zakharova said.

A similar operation was held using the infrastructure of the Bulgarian port of Bourgas for the illegal transfer of some "confidential cargo" to the region to support the anti-Assad armed opposition, the spokeswoman said.

Therefore, legitimate questions arise: how were these deals formalized, considering that Russia, Romania and Bulgaria have not settled until now the issue of licensed production in the military and technical sphere through the fault of the latter countries? Why do the UN and OSCE member-states participating in this illegal operation so easily breach their international commitments in the field of preventing illegal turnover of light and small arms?"

"It follows from the above-mentioned facts that Romanian and Bulgarian partners are consciously violating the rights to the results of intellectual property received during bilateral military and technical cooperation and breaching their commitments under the international Arms Trade Treaty, violating the European Union’s common position on control of the exports of military technologies and equipment," Zakharova said.

"Their steps that were taken, as we understand, at the suggestion and with the participation of US government structures, do not contribute to the quickest settlement of the situation in Syria and the cessation of combat operations there," the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

"Unfortunately, we again have to state double standards for peace and transparency," Zakharova said.