Russia will not deliver new weapons to Syria so long as the situation in that country is unstable, an official at the body in charge of monitoring Russia’s arms trade said Monday, state media reported.
“Russia, as well as other countries, is concerned by the situation in Syria,” said Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, deputy head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, RIA Novosti reported. “We are not talking about new arms supplies to that country.”
“Until the situation stabilizes we will not deliver any new weapons (to Syria),” said Dzirkaln.
He specifically said Russia would not supply Syria with Yak-130 aircraft. Russia has signed a $550 million contract for the delivery of three dozen such planes, RIA Novosti said.
Still, it was not clear whether the official was saying Russia would discontinue the delivery of all arms, or whether it was stopping just the supply of “new weapons.” The report seemed to leave open the possibility that Russia could continue to deliver some arms to Syria under existing contracts.
The move could be a major blow to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting to stay in control after more than a year of popular protests and a brutal government crackdown.
Russia has been the long-time principal supplier of arms to Syria since the days when it was the Soviet Union. The weapons sales have more than doubled in recent years. According to Congressional Research Service, Russia sold Syria $4.7 billion in arms from 2007 to 2010, compared with $2.1 billion from 2003 to 2006.
Russia to Halt Arms Shipments to Syria
VOA, July 9
A senior Russian defense official said Moscow will no longer sell any weapons to Syria until the situation there calms down, as a Syrian activist group said the death toll from the Syrian conflict has surpassed 17,000.
Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, the deputy chief of the Russian military and technical cooperation agency, said Monday that Russia will not sign any more arms deals, deliver any more weapons or ship any spare parts for weapons delivered earlier.
The United States and other world leaders have pushed Russia to stop helping Damascus crackdown on the opposition there.
In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin said the Syrian government and the opposition groups should be forced to enter negotiations.
“I am convinced that we must do everything possible to force the conflicting sides to find a peaceful political solution to all the disputed issues,” Putin told a group of Russian and foreign diplomats in televised remarks.