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U.S.-Russian arms deal on books

Dec. 3, 2012 at 11:24 AM

MOSCOW, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- A U.S. military contract with a Russian counterpart for helicopters in Afghanistan remains on the books despite Syrian weapons concerns, an official said.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, last week called for a ban on Defense Department spending with Russian arms company Rosoboronexport. Cornyn said such spending was undermining U.S. policy in Syria, which counts Russia as a major weapons supplier.

The U.S. military is said to be working on a deal with Rosoboronexport to deliver helicopters to Afghan security forces. A source in the Russian company told state-run media RIA Novosti that any decision on that contract was in the hands of U.S. President Barack Obama.

"The contract remains in force as yet," the source was quoted as saying.

Washington sanctioned the Russian company in 2008 for working with the Iranian government. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this year lashed out at Moscow for its military ties to Syria, which the Kremlin says is based on existing contractual obligations.

"The American taxpayer should not be indirectly subsidizing the mass murder of Syrian civilians," said Cornyn last week.

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