Russian lawmakers criticize U.S. bill to ban deals with Russian arms seller

Two Russian lawmakers interviewed by Interfax on Saturday attacked a U.S. bill to forbid the United States' Defense Department to have any deals with Russian weapons exporter Rosoboronexport that has been passed by the Senate but has not yet been signed into law by President Barack Obama.

"I qualify it as one more attempt of the American parliamentarians to show Russia its place in the world. The Americans said earlier that they wouldn't go back on their plan for deploying missile defense facilities in Eastern European countries, and now they're refusing to cooperate with Rosoboronexport," said Vladimir Komoyedov, a Communist and chairman of the State Duma Committee on Defense.

He described the declared reason for the proposed ban, which would amend the U.S. 2013 defense budget, as "absurd."

"The initiators of the bill are claiming that that is their response to Russia's supplies of armaments for the Syrian government. But we have repeatedly assured the international community that we don't supply any armaments for that country. We have simply finished fulfilling our contractual commitments to repair some of its weapons," he said.

Komoyedov, who heads the Duma delegation for liaison with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, cited the assembly's recent latest session in Prague.

"Both in their speeches and in unofficial exchanges, many European parliamentarians, and Americans as well for that matter, expressed the opinion that the situation in Syria should be settled solely in a diplomatic way, through negotiations, something that Russia has always insisted on," he said.

He suggested withholding final judgments about the proposed ban until Obama makes up his mind about it. "But if he does endorse it, after all, it will undoubtedly and seriously undermine our bilateral relations," Komoyedov said.

Committee on Defense Deputy Chairman Frants Klintsevich, who represents the United Russia party, described the Senate's move as "absolutely impermissible."

"The American senators' position is not only counterproductive but also absolutely impermissible because one cannot make an unsubstantiated allegation that Russia is supplying the Syrian government with armaments, and so all contacts with Rosooboronexport must be severed," he said.

The Russian government has "asserted repeatedly that Moscow does not supply any weapons or military equipment for Damascus and does not give Syria any aid other than humanitarian," Klintsevich said.

American lawmakers "simply want to show our country its place," he said. "But they have no standing to teach us. They'd better pay attention to the fact that they themselves violate all generally recognized international rules, which forbid making accusations without any substantiation, without any official grounds, against any country."

Klintsevich argued there is a chance that Obama will turn down the bill. "President Obama undoubtedly realizes very well what serious problems this document may cause in our relations if it comes into force," he said.

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