Russia Continues Weapons Trade With Syria Despite Escalating Conflict
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has accused Russia of sending attack helicopters to Syria, warning that the shipment “will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has rejected Clinton’s claim, saying that Russia is only shipping air defense systems under previously signed contracts.
Russia has shielded Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, its last ally in the Arab world, from international sanctions and has continued to provide it with weapons despite international outrage. It has shipped billions of dollars worth of missiles, combat jets, tanks, artillery and other military gear to Syria over more than four decades. Moscow says it’s currently providing Assad with weapons intended to protect Syria from a foreign invasion and is not delivering the kinds of weapons needed to fight lightly armed insurgents in cities.