Medvedev shrugs off U.S. sanctions on arms

18:46, 28 October 2008
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And repeats Kremlin complaints

U.S. sanctions on Russia`s state arms exporter are short-sighted and will not have a significant impact on its sales, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday.

The U.S. State Department last week imposed sanctions on firms in China and Russia for alleged sales of sensitive technology that could help Iran, North Korea and Syria develop weapons of mass destruction or missile systems.

One of the firms on the list was Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.

"I consider such sanctions as short-sighted," Medvedev told a government commission overseeing Russia`s arms trade.

"It is unscrupulous competition, simply an attempt to close doors for the supplier and the main thing is that for us this decision can hardly be felt," he added.

The United States has previously expressed concerns about Russia`s plans to expand arms sales to U.S. foes Iran, Syria and Venezuela. Russian leaders say they only sell defensive weapons and complain that the global arms trade is overpoliticised.

"We ... will sell arms and military equipment exclusively to maintain the defence potential of our partners," Medvedev said.

He repeated Kremlin complaints that the West and some of its ex-Soviet allies like Ukraine were selling offensive weapons to Georgia, encouraging the Caucasus state to take on Moscow in armed conflict.

Russia in August repelled Tbilisi`s attempt to retake control of the breakaway region of South Ossetia and its forces went on to control parts of Georgian territory for a time.

Defying the Western condemnation, Moscow has recognised South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia as independent states.

"Plans to re-arm this regime with additional weapons are under way," Medvedev said. "We will not forget this and will take this into account in our practical policies."

Arms exports is one of a few sectors where Russian products are competitive worldwide. Medvedev said that a portfolio of Russian arms export contracts now exceeds $30 billion (19 billion pounds).

"This is especially important now when a major financial crisis is unfolding," Medvedev said.

Reuters via Swissinfo

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