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US Senate passes ban on top Russian arms exporter

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The Senate side of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The US Senate has unanimously approved a motion to bar the Pentagon from purchasing any kind of military items from Russia’s major arms exporter Rosoboronexport over the firm’s weapons sales to Syria.

The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act authored by Republican Senator John Cornyn needs to be approved by the Congress.

The amendment, however, clearly stipulates that the ban can be overturned if “the Secretary of Defense determines that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States with respect to the capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces.”

Senate’s Thursday ban against Rosoboronexport, which manages almost all of Russia’s weapons sales, has drawn criticism from the Kremlin.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned on Saturday that the ban might affect an existing multi-million-dollar agreement between the Pentagon and Rosoboronexport.

Based on the USD 367-million deal signed in May 2011, the US has purchased 21 Mi-17s helicopters from Rosoboronexport for the Afghan security forces.

Russia “does not wish to see this collaboration damaged as a result of ill-conceived decisions and a bad state of mind of US Senators,” he added.

“Russia is against policies which propose sanctions or quasi-sanctions regardless of the motives behind it,” Ryabkov pointed out.

Rosoboronexport has reportedly sold over a billion dollars in weapons to Syria, including four cargo ships full of arms and three dozen combat jets since March 2011, the senators said.

Russia contends that its arms sales to Syria are carried out strictly based on the existing agreements, in accordance with the international laws and solely to meet Syria’s defense purposes.


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