US senators seek sanctions on Russian firmMarch 13th, 2012 - 7:57 am ICT by IANS
Washington, March 13 (IANS) A group of 17 US senators have urged the defence department to stop doing business with a Russian state-owned arms exporting company, which they accused of supplying arms to Syria.
In a letter to Defence Secretary Leon Panetta Monday, the senators said the Rosoboronexport company of Russia sold 36 fighter jets to Syria in January, in addition to arms sales last year that was worth nearly $1 billion.
At the same time, the letter said the Pentagon has agreed to purchase 21 dual use Mi-17 helicopters for Afghan military from the Russian company, in a deal worth $375 million, Xinhua reported.
The senators, including John Cornyn, Dick Durbin, Kelly Ayotte and Kirsten Gillibrand, demanded Panetta use all available means to urge the Russians to stop supporting the Syrian government and terminate all business dealings with Rosoboronexport, which they charged as being “essentially complicit in mass atrocities in Syria”.
“US taxpayers should not be put in a position where they are indirectly subsidizing the mass murder of Syrian civilians,” the letter said, adding that the Pentagon’s business relationship with the Russian firm would undermine US policy on Syria and its “efforts to stand with the Syrian people”.
The US and Russia have been at odds on the issue of how to end the yearlong violence in Syria, with Washington blasting Moscow for having vetoed two US-backed resolutions at the UN Security Council to solely condemn Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, which insists that the unrest in Syria is the work of armed rebel groups.
Russia has made it clear that it will not pass any resolution that allows military intervention or offers support to the rebel forces in Syria, slamming the US and its allies for attempting to impose a regime change similar to the one in Libya last year.
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Tags: bashar al assad, business relationship, defence department, dick durbin, fighter jets, john cornyn, kelly ayotte, kirsten gillibrand, leon panetta, mass atrocities, president bashar, rebel forces, rebel groups, regime change, rosoboronexport, russian company, russian firm, russian state, syrian government, syrian president bashar al