Russia: we're happy to sell arms to Assad

 

Moscow

Russia insisted yesterday that it would not halt arms shipments to Syria even as evidence mounts that the regime is committing crimes against humanity, with a rights group today releasing a sickening dossier of the torture inflicted on those who oppose President Bashar al-Assad.

The comments by Russia's Deputy Defence Minister, Anatoly Antonov, that existing contracts will be adhered to despite reports of up to 8,000 dead, come as activists prepare to mark a grim year since their call for reform descended into bloodshed. Mr Assad's tanks continued to roll into dissident areas, with the army reported to have recaptured the rebel stronghold of Idlib near the Turkish border, until now held by army defectors fighting for the Free Syrian Army. Activists said dozens of people had been killed in the assault, their bodies dumped in local mosques.

The tens of thousands trying to flee the country face the added danger of landmines that Human Rights Watch says have been laid along Syria's borders with Turkey and Lebanon.

Carroll Bogert, a deputy executive director of the New York-based watchdog, told The Independent that these mines were Russian-made.

Despite this growing evidence that the arms it sells the regime are being used against civilians, Russia remains defiant. "Russia enjoys good and strong military technical co-operation with Syria, and we see no reason today to reconsider it," Mr Antonov said yesterday. "Russian-Syrian military co-operation is perfectly legitimate," he added. Mr Antonov admitted that Russia has military instructors on the ground in Syria training the Syrian army.

"It's part of our contractual obligations," said the minister. "When we supply weapons, we have to provide training." He denied that Russia had sent special forces to assist in military planning.

Russia has vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling on Mr Assad to withdraw tanks from cities and cede power to a deputy.

Russian's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, reiterated the Kremlin's position that any call to end violence needs to encompass the armed opposition as well as the Syrian government, and said that regime troops will not withdraw from their positions until the rebel forces first lay down their arms.

Moscow insists that its arms trade with Damascus does not contradict international law. The European Union, United States and some Arab countries have enforced economic sanctions against Syria, but Russia is not party to any of them. The links between the two countries go back decades. Russia maintains its only naval base outside the former Soviet Union at Tartus in Syria.

A Western diplomat said Russia's business interests in Syria were a huge factor in its foreign policy, and said the Kremlin's determination to continue arms sales went against recent comments that it was dedicated to finding a political solution.

"If Russia genuinely wants a solution to the crisis in Syria, why is it providing arms and refusing to put pressure on the Assad regime?" the diplomat asked.

An Amnesty International report released today details 31 separate methods of torture used on people during the uprising.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us