Russia: All arms shipments to Syria legal, will continue
Russian arms shipments to Syria are legal, beneficial to regional stability, and will continue as planned, a senior Kremlin official said in a Tuesday interview.
"We do not see signs the Syrian government has lost control of the situation," said Mikhail Bogdanov, special advisor to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for Africa and the Middle East, DPA reported.
"If we stop the deliveries, it will have a destablizing effect," Bogdanov said in an interview.
Russian officials in February said they intended to sell 72 cruise missiles to Syria in a 300 million dollar deal. Israel has criticized the planned sale, saying the weapons threaten Israeli security.
Recent Russian arms deliveries to Syria include MiG-29 jet fighters, anti-aircraft systems and armoured vehicles.
"All of our shipments are legal," Bogdanov said. "There are no grounds for stopping them ... if we did so it would have a destabilizing effect."
Russian arms transfers to Syria also are controversial because of Israeli allegations that Damascus has sent some of the Russian weaponry to the outlawed group Hezbollah, which is based in south Lebanon and whose fighters frequently attack Israel.
By international law, Moscow would not be allowed to sell Syria weapons if it was aware the arms were intended for Hezbollah, which most nations consider a terrorist organization.
During a 2006 war in south Lebanon, Hezbollah fighters used Russian weapons, among them modern anti-tank rockets seemingly intended for Syria's army, to deadly effect against Israeli forces.