US Ban on Russian Arms Exporter Would Harm Ties: Lavrov

US Ban on Russian Arms Exporter Would Harm Ties: Lavrov
# 04 December 2012 20:37 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that the proposed US ban on deals with Russia’s state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport would be detrimental to the development of bilateral cooperation, APA reports quoting RIA Novosti.

The US Senate unanimously approved last Thursday the Cornyn amendment to the defense budget, which bars the use of American taxpayer funds to purchase goods from Rosoboronexport, including helicopters to be flown in Afghanistan.

“I would avoid making any predictions. It is not a law, but rather an opinion of the Senate that has yet to pass all the necessary stages,” Lavrov told a news conference after a Russia-NATO meeting in Brussels.

“We are certain that at least the US administration will draw the inevitable conclusion that the idea born in the Senate contradicts US national interests as well as the development of cooperation with Russia and the goals that we are trying to achieve in Afghanistan and around it,” Lavrov said.

A similar bill cleared the US House of Representatives by overwhelming majority vote in July.

The ban may come into force as early as on January 1, 2013, if President Barack Obama signs the 2013 fiscal budget proposal with respective amendments into law.

Rosoboronexport signed a $367.5 million deal with the United States in May 2011 for delivery of 21 Mi-17V5 helicopters. All those helicopters have now been delivered, according to the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST), a Moscow-based think-tank.

The break with the United States could affect an option contract signed on July 18 for a further ten machines worth $171 million. Deliveries of the second batch were due by 2016.

Another potential contract that looks set to be lost is for ammunition supplies to Afghanistan. In April, five US defense firms invited Russia for the first time to become a subcontractor on the delivery of Russian-made ammunition for coalition forces in Afghanistan, Rosoboronexport said.

In mid-June, US Senator John Cornyn called on the Pentagon to take action against Rosoboronexport, but the Pentagon dismissed his claims, saying that dealing with Russia’s arms exporter was the "only legally available method" to supply the helicopters to Afghanistan.

Rosoboronexport was subject to US sanctions from 2006 to 2010 for allegedly providing nations including Iran and Syria with equipment that could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction.