Russia halts shipment of fighter jets to Syria regime
Russian President Putin calls for talks between Damascus and opposition. EPA photoDaily
Russia will not deliver Yak-130 fighter planes to Syria while the situation there remains “unresolved”, the country’s service for military cooperation said yesterday, according to the RIA news agency.
“In the current situation talking about deliveries of airplanes to Syria is premature,” Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, deputy director of the service, told journalists at the Farnborough Airshow, RIA said. Russia reportedly signed an order to deliver 40 fighter-trainer jets at the end of last year, despite controversy surrounding its arms sales to violence-torn Syria, Reuters reported.
Dzirkaln said that Russia is not going to sign any new arms deals with Syria or send any more weapons. He said that so far Russia has been providing Syria’s army with spare parts and assistance in repairs of the weapons supplied earlier, The Associated Press reported.
In the meantime, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Syrian government and opposition groups should be “forced” to start a dialogue
He spoke yesterday, the same day a Syrian opposition leader, Michel Kilo, met with Russia’s foreign minister. Putin said that the dialogue Russia is helping facilitate is “more complicated and fine” that an armed solution to the conflict. Kilo, who heads the Democratic Forum opposition group, said that he hopes Russia will play a positive role in “finding a peaceful solution to our crisis.” Members of another opposition group, the Syrian National Council, are expected in Moscow for talks tomorrow. Russia is Syria’s most important ally and protector and its main supplier of arms. The Russians have blocked the U.N.’s Security Council from taking strong, punitive action against the Assad regime.