Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Putin: One day weapons go to ‘moderate opposition,’ the next they are with terrorists

supplies of arms to conflict zones
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said certain clandestine supplies of arms to conflict zones are apparently primarily motivated by profit rather than geopolitical considerations. He called this “irresponsible” and unbefitting of any state.

Speaking at an arms export commission in Moscow, Putin stressed that while selling weapons is a multibillion-dollar business for Russia, it ensures that the bottom line never undermines the stability of the regions to which the weapons are delivered. He said this approach contrasted with that of “some actors in the arms market,” refraining from naming the culprits, but apparently referring to the US and several of its allies.

“Instead of a genuine fight against terrorist groups we see a simulation of this fight while uncontrolled arms deliveries grow. One day the weapons go to so-called ‘moderate opposition’ in this or that place, and the next day they are in the hands of radicals and terrorists,” Putin said. “It appears that the conflict zones have become for some just a lucrative business, a link in the chain of ‘gray’ schemes of supply of arms to nations and regions suffering from military and political instability.”

The US and its allies such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia have supported armed groups opposing the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad over the past six years, including through clandestine supplies of weapons and military hardware.

On too many occasions these weapons ended up in the hands of radical Islamist groups, including Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front, both designated as terrorists by the US. The problem was acknowledged in Washington, but it didn’t stop the deliveries.

US arms supplied to state buyers rather than militant groups are also not always safe. IS infamously captured a large arsenal of American military vehicles and heavy weapons when it seized the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014. The majority of weapons seized from IS by the advancing Syrian Arab Army, which were demonstrated by Damascus, were American-made, military journalist Viktor Litovkin told RT.

“Just a week ago the Syrian government army showed the stockpiles of weapons it took from IS. There were assault rifles, machine guns, other small arms, anti-tank missiles, mortars and whatever. It took almost an entire stadium to hold. There were even drones. And they were made in America,” he said.

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