Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Russia slams end of EU arms embargo, calls S-300s ‘stabilizing factor’ in Syria

    Tuesday, May 28, 2013   No comments

S-300 anti-aircraft missile system. (RIA Novosti / Vladislav Belogrud)

The EU voted Tuesday to end an arms embargo on the Syrian opposition but had no immediate plans to ship weapons amid continuing efforts to negotiate a solution to the crisis. Russia criticised the EU move, saying it undermined diplomatic efforts.

The European Union on Tuesday lifted an arms embargo on the Syrian opposition, in a move that drew rebuke from Moscow even if there were no immediate plans to deliver military equipment to the forces locked in a bloody civil war with the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

“Tonight EU nations agreed to bring the arms embargo on the Syrian opposition to an end,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement, adding that it was a “difficult decision for some countries” only a few months after the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize.



All other EU sanctions on the Assad regime will remain in place.

“It was important for Europe to send a clear signal to the Assad regime that it has to negotiate seriously, and that all options remain on the table if it refuses to do so. Tonight EU nations have done just that,” Hague said.

Hague and other European leaders repeated that they would not proceed at this stage with the delivery of weapons, as diplomats scrambled to find a peaceful end to the 26-month-old conflict...

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The failure of the European Union to agree on a new arms embargo for Syria is undermining the peace process, Moscow says. But the delivery of S-300 surface-to-air missiles may help restrain warmongers.

The comments come from Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, referring to the results of Monday’s meeting in Brussels. After a lengthy negotiating session, EU governments failed to resolve their differences and allowed a ban on arming the Syrian opposition to expire, with France and Britain scoring an apparent victory at the expense of EU unity.

The EU's move, which the Russian diplomat branded as an "example of double standards", opens the door for Britain and France to supply weapons to Syrian rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Criticizing Europe’s decision to open the way for potential arms shipments to Syrian rebels, Russia insists that its own sale of arms to the Syrian government helps the international effort to end the two-year-long conflict, the diplomat added. He was referring to the delivery of the advanced S-300 long-range air defense systems, which Russia is carrying out under a contract signed with Syria several years ago.

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