Congress slaps Moscow’s Rosoboronexport on military aid to Syria

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WASHINGTON — Congress has blocked U.S. procurement of military
equipment from Russia amid its continued assistance to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The House of Representatives passed a bill that severed contacts between
the Defense Department and Russia’s state-owned arms agency Rosoboronexport.

The House said the Kremlin delivered nearly $1 billion worth of combat platforms and weapons to Syria over the last year.

“It is beyond unacceptable for the United States government to work with a firm that is arming the oppressive Syrian regime,” Rep. Jim Moran, sponsor of the bill, said. “Furthering contracts with Rosoboronexport contradicts our nation’s commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy.”

The legislation, passed July 19 by a vote of 407-5, marked an
attachment to the U.S. military budget for fiscal 2013. House members said the ban on Rosoboronexport represented Congress’ response to Moscow’s veto of a United Nations Security Council resolution for non-military sanctions against Assad’s regime.

House and Senate members have long complained of Pentagon contracts with
Rosoboronexport for Russian-origin Mi-17 utility helicopters for
Afghanistan. The last order was in May 2011, a $367.5 million contract for
the delivery of 21 Mi-17V5s and an option for another 12 helicopters. By
2012, nine helicopters had arrived in Afghanistan.

“There has never been a competition for supplying rotorcraft for the
Afghan National Security Forces,” Moran, a Virginia Republican, said. “Had
there been one, I’m confident American firms would have done exceptionally

A House statement said Rosoboronexport supplied Damascus with
high explosives, mortars, sniper rifles, ammunition and attack helicopters.
The equipment was said to have been used against civilian protesters of the
Assad regime.

“The United States does not condone the massacre of innocent men, women
and children,” Moran said.

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