Russia’s state-controlled arms trader Rosoboronexport intends to fulfill its contract for the supply of armaments to Syria, Rosoboronexport Deputy CEO Igor Sevastyanov said on Tuesday.
“No one can ever accuse Russia of violating the rules of armaments trade set by the international community,” Sevastyanov said in response to a question about whether Russia would fulfill its contract for the supply of Pantsyr mobile gun and missile air defense systems to Syria.
“The contract was signed long ago and we supply armaments that are self-defense rather than attack weapons, and there can be no talk about any violations by Russia or Rosoboronexport either de jure or de facto,” Sevastyanov said, adding it was the UN Security Council that served as an instrument of supporting global stability.
Sevastyanov referred to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who said “even with the greatest fantasy, it is hard to imagine that air defense systems can be used to suppress opposition actions.”
“The contracts that were signed and do not contradict international law must be fulfilled. If the international community adopts other decisions, they will be fulfilled by Russia,” Sevastyanov said.
Russian President Vladmir Putin said in early June that Russia was not supplying arms to Syria which can be used against protesters. “As for arms supplies, Russia is not supplying arms that could be used in civil conflicts,” Putin said during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday.
Syria is one of Russia’s major weapons clients, and Moscow has opposed a proposal for a UN arms embargo on Damascus.
Russia has supplied Syria with Bastion coastal missile systems with Yakhont cruise missiles and Buk surface-to-air missile systems under a contract signed in 2007.
According to UN estimates, about 10,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, which started with peaceful protests but has since grown increasingly militarized.
Russia and China have twice vetoed UN Security Council resolutions condemning the Syrian government over the violence, citing a pro-rebel bias. The Syrian authorities insist they are fighting “armed terrorist gangs” affiliated with al-Qaeda.
Western powers have accused Russia of its reluctance to support a tougher UN action against the Syrian regime, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying Russia’s stance is “propping up” the Assad regime and contributing to a “civil war” in Syria.
Moscow insists that the Syrian crisis can only be resolved through political dialogue, and has urged Syria’s conflicting parties to stick to a peace plane brokered by the joint UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.