Ryabkov affirms Russian arms supply to Syria legal, EU is making mistake

MOSCOW- No one has the right to rebuke Russia for arms supply to Syria, as the deliveries go to legitimate authorities, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, according to the Voice of Russia website.

"You may ask me: what about the Russian Federation? First of all, the Russian Federation is supplying arms to legitimate authorities and this is not an abstract or idle argument about who these authorities are and why they have the right to receive armaments of this or that sort and the other side has no such rights," Ryabkov told a press conference in Moscow on Tuesday.

He confirmed that Moscow deemed erroneous the EU decision to lift the embargo on arms supplies to the "Syrian opposition".

"You cannot declare the wish to stop the bloodshed, on one hand, and continue to pump armaments into Syria, on the other hand," Ryabkov said.

EU decision to lift Syria arms embargo is an example of double standards - Ryabkov

The EU decision to lift the embargo on arms supplies to the Syrian opposition may damage the upcoming international conference on Syria in Geneva.

"This is a manifestation of double standards and a direct damage to prospects for convocation of the international conference on Syria on which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agreed on May 7," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters.

EU Arms Embargo Ends

Meanwhile, Russia's NATO envoy Alexander Grushko has argued that the European Union's decision to lift its arms embargo for the "Syrian opposition" will only serve to further escalate violence in Syria. 

"It is necessary to refrain from taking steps that would contradict this logic. Among such steps I see armed or non-lethal support for the opposition. It will simply add fuel to the fire," Grushko told journalists, commenting on the EU's decision not to prolong its arms embargo for the "Syrian opposition".

By means of this decision, Britain and France have won the freedom to supply weapons to Syrian armed groups.

The two states lobbying for months for an easing of the embargo prevailed at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday. The negotiating session dragged on for more than 13 hours and resulted in EU letting a ban on arming the "Syrian opposition" to expire.

Both London, the prime mover behind the EU decision, and Paris have claimed their commitment not to deliver arms to the Syrian opposition "at this stage". The commitment expires on August 1.

It was also decided that other economic sanctions on Syria will be prolonged by 12 months. They include asset freezes and travel bans on senior Syrian officials, as well as curbs on trade, infrastructure projects and the transport sector.

London and Paris have argued for months that Europe must support armed groups fighting the Syrian government by giving the green light for EU arms deliveries.

But they ran into strong opposition from other EU member states including Austria, the Czech Republic and Sweden, which argued that sending more weapons to the region would make the violence even worse and could see heavy weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups.

Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said he regretted it had not been possible to find a compromise with Britain and France.

“The people in Syria being killed in this conflict wouldn’t benefit if we ship weapons. It would result in an arms race,” said Michael Spindelegger.


H. Mustafa