Medvedev Shrugs Off U.S. Arms Sanctions

Itar-TassAn airship bearing the Rosoboronexport logo on display at an exhibition.
U.S. sanctions on state arms exporter Rosoboronexport are shortsighted and will not have a significant impact on its sales, President Dmitry Medvedev said 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.

"I consider such sanctions as shortsighted," 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 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 overpoliticized.

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

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

"Plans to rearm 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 are one of a few sectors where Russian products are competitive worldwide. Medvedev said a portfolio of Russian arms export contracts now exceeds $30 billion.

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