Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova answers question from TASS agency on US supplies of Soviet weapons from Romania and Bulgaria to Syrian opposition

April 21, 2016

Question: Could you please comment on the information in Romanian media about the alleged US supply of large consignments of Soviet arms from Romania and Bulgaria for transfer to representatives of the Syrian opposition.

Maria Zakharova: We attentively studied this information. We have no grounds to ignore it since the Romanian media quoted the source – an article in the April 8 issue of authoritative specialised military magazine Jane’s Defense Weekly, which has a large circulation. Proceeding from information published on the US Government website, Federal Business Opportunities, the article opens the veil on one case of the illegal supply of “Soviet weapons” to crisis-hit areas of the world via private mediators that are fulfilling contracts on trade in various types of lethal arms produced under expired Soviet licenses. Indicatively, contracts for the delivery of explosive materials to Jordan’s Port of Aqaba by shipping companies were placed by the Military Sealift Command of the US Armed Forces. This information was updated later with details of the cargo’s character and weight – 994 tonnes (a solid consignment), half of which was to be unloaded at the Agalar military pier of the Turkish port of Tasuku near the Syrian border.

According to the article, a large consignment of these weapons was shipped by sea with Romanian assistance via Turkey and Jordan to the so-called “Syrian rebels” that are fighting against the regime of the legally elected President Bashar al-Assad. The range of military products was fairly wide – from traditional Kalashnikov rifles, grenade launchers and portable anti-tank systems to other arms of different designation. This is an obvious case of the illegal re-export of unlicensed Soviet arms.

The said article also mentions Bulgaria. The infrastructure of its port Burgas was used for the similar illegal transfer of some “confidential” cargo to Jordan. Referring to US specialists, the author assumes that this cargo was also military and will be used for Washington’s support of the anti-Assad military opposition.

This suggests natural questions. How were these deals registered considering that licensed production in the military and technical sphere between Russia, on the one hand, and Romania and Bulgaria, on the other, is still an outstanding issue by the fault of the latter countries? Why do the UN and OSCE member countries that are involved in this illegal transaction so easily violate their international commitments on preventing trafficking in light and small arms?

The aforementioned facts show that the Romanian and Bulgarian partners are conscientiously abusing the intellectual property rights stemming from bilateral military and technical cooperation. They also are not complying with their obligations under the UN Arms Trade Treaty or the European Union’s common position on controlling the export of military technology and equipment. Their actions taken, as we understand, with the prompting and participation of US Government agencies do not facilitate an early settlement and the end of hostilities in Syria.

Regrettably, we have to note again the use of double standards by those who are advocating peace and transparency in words…