11 June 2013
Russia ships only defensive arms to Syria within the framework of existing contracts, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"We supply weapons to all those who contracted legally. And this is the universal rule," Lavrov said in an interview with the United States' CBS TV channel. The Russian Foreign Ministry published the English transcript of the interview.
Commenting on the journalists remark that Russian arms supplies may cause military crimes in Syria, Lavrov said: "I don't think you can perpetrate war crimes with defensive weapons, with air defense systems."
The journalist then read to Lavrov a list of weapons that as she said was a request from a Syrian army general to a Russian arms supplier from March 2013. The list included "20,000 AK-47s, 200,000 mortar rounds, grenade launchers, millions of rounds of ammunition". "These are not defensive weapons," the journalist commented on the list.
"Are we discussing Syrian army requests or the substance of the contracts which we honor? I think those are two different things. And you have to make a difference," Lavrov replied.
"I have not seen this request. And this is not a contract to which we are committed. Those are two very different things. As I said, the international law does not prohibit legal supplies, legitimate supply of arms to any sovereign state without violating any international norms," he said.
Lavrov also underlined that Russia does not support Bashar Assad despite a popular opinion in the West. "Well, that's misperception. And misperceptions are used in today's diplomacy to build the public opinion the right way for those who want to achieve some geopolitical goals," he said.
"Russia repeatedly stated that we do not support anyone in Syria. We are not weathered to any personalities. President Assad was best friend of the French, the British and other European capitals," Lavrov said.