Russia has confirmed that it is currently supplying the governments of Syria and Mali with weapons and military hardware as deadly armed conflicts continue to rage on in both countries.
The head of the state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport said Wednesday that it had delivered military equipment, including air defense systems, to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“We are continuing to fulfill our obligations on contracts for the delivery of military hardware,” said Anatoly Isaikin, the Interfax news agency reported.
Isaikin also said that Rosoboronexport did not deliver the Iskander medium-range ballistic missiles requested by the Syrian government, nor was it planning to supply Damascus with MiG-29M fighter jets, contrary to some reports, though it had agreed to send Yak-130 light attack fighters.
Russia has drawn criticism from the United States and its Western allies, as well as Arab nations, for supplying arms to the Assad regime, particularly over the Syrian military’s use of heavy artillery in civilian-populated urban areas.
To date, the nearly two-year long armed conflict in Syria has resulted in an estimated 70,000 deaths, according to the United Nations.
Russia, along with China, has also consistently vetoed punitive measures against the Syrian regime at the U.N. Security Council.
Moscow has defended its arms sales to Syria, citing the arms and external support the Syrian opposition rebels have received from neighboring countries in the region.
Isaikin also confirmed that Russia had delivered small shipments of light weaponry to Mali, where the government, backed by French and West African coalition forces, have been battling Islamist rebels in the north.
"We have delivered firearms. Literally two weeks ago another consignment was sent. These are completely legal deliveries," said Isaikin, according to Agence France Presse. "We are in talks about sending more, in small quantities."
The conflict in Mali broke out in January 2012, though France and other West African nations did not intervene until earlier this year, citing concerns over regional instability and the expansion of international terrorist organizations in the region.
Russia is the world’s second largest arms exporter after the U.S. with its 2012 arms exports valued at $12.9 billion.
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