Russia vows to continue arms deliveries to Syria: ‘no restrictions’

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MOSCOW — Russia said it intends to complete additional weapons
deliveries to the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Kremlin said Moscow would fulfill several unidentified defense
contracts with Syria in 2012. Officials said Russian weapons exports to
Damascus have not been banned by the United Nations.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov. /AFP/Getty Images

“As of today there are no restrictions on the delivery of weapons, and we must fulfill our obligations,” Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said. “And this is what we are doing.”

In a statement on Feb. 2, Antonov did not cite planned Russian weapons exports to Syria, which received the Iskander long-range rocket and the Bastion coastal defense system in late 2011. But officials said the Kremlin has approved missile, air defense, fighter-jet and air trainers to the Assad regime, confronted by a Sunni revolt since March 2011.

“These [Russian] weapons were not being used against demonstrators,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. “We signed some contracts, and contracts must be implemented.”

Officials said Syria continued to represent a major Russian arms client. Russia’s state-owned arms export agency, Rosoboronexport, reported $10.7
billion in defense exports for 2011, a rise of more than 20 percent from
the previous year.

“We managed to keep our order book at the level of $33-35 billion, and I
think that this trend will continue in 2012-2013,” Rosoboronexport chief
executive officer Anatoly Isaikin said.

The Kremlin said it would veto any United Nations Security Council
resolution to impose an arms embargo on Syria. Officials said such an
embargo would significantly harm Russian defense exports.

“How can we say that we will tear up all of our contracts, sever all our
ties with Syria?” Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, asked on Feb. 1.
“We will not agree to any embargo, not even so much as a hint of an

In a briefing on Feb. 2, Rosoboronexport said it lost $4 billion in
orders in Libya, which underwent a revolt that ousted Col. Moammar Gadhafi
in October. Still, Isaikin said Russian arms exports would not drop in

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