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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia Will Deliver First Mi-25 Gunships to Syria on Time - Arms Official

RIA Novosti

10:07 28/06/2012

ZHUKOVSKY, June 28 (RIA Novosti) - The first consignment of three Mil Mi-25 helicopter gunships for Syria has been overhauled and will be delivered to the customer within the contracted time, a senior arms official said on Thursday.

The contract for the repair of the helicopters was signed by Russia and Syria in 2008, Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation director Alexander Fomin said.

"Syria is our friend, and we we fulfil all our obligations to our friends. According to the 2008 contract, we repaired three Mi-25s and are ready to deliver them on time," Fomin said on the sidelines of the Technology in Machine-Building 2012 exhibition at Zhukovsky near Moscow.

Fomin did not, however, disclose the overall number of helicopters in the contract. Media reports claiming Russia was to deliver 36 helicopters were false, he added.

The helicopters became the center of a diplomatic row earlier this month, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claiming Russia was supplying weapons that would be used to massacre civilian protesters.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied the claim, saying the helicopters had originally been supplied in the Soviet-era and were being returned to Syria under an existing contract. He also said military equipment being supplied to Syria was defensive in nature and could not be used against civilians.

A ship which was carrying the helicopters from Russia's exclave of Kaliningrad to Syria turned back last week and docked in Murmansk, after the British insurer of the vessel withdrew cover after being informed of the cargo.

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