Russian ship line denies 'illegal' arms transport to Syria
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
A undated handout image made available by Russian company Femco, showing their cargo vessel MV Alaed at an undisclosed location. EPA photo
A Russian cargo line denied on Wednesday it was involved in illegal transport of weapons and attack helicopters to Syria amid media reports Moscow was sending arms to the conflict-torn country.
Britain's Sunday Telegraph earlier reported that the MV Alaed operated by Femco, a shipping company based on Russia's Sakhalin Island, carried attack helicopters destined for Syria.
It said it had picked up its cargo of Mi-25 helicopter gunships from the Russian port of Kaliningrad, where they had been sent for servicing and repairs.
"Reports about illegal actions of the MC Alaed's owner are inaccurate. The vessel is currently making a regular commercial voyage, in full accordance with international norms and rules," Femco said in a statement.
Femco insisted it was known among its clients for its "reliability and business integrity" suggesting it would not want to jeopardise its credibility.
"We highly value our reputation and intend to observe these principles in the future," it said.
Insurer Standard Club said earlier this week it had cancelled insurance for the MV Alaed which effectively prevents the ship from sailing until the owner can secure new cover.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has accused Russia of fuelling the violence by sending attack helicopters to Syria, which she said were "on the way".
Russia has said it was not making any new deliveries of attack helicopters to Syria and has only carried out repairs of helicopters sent there many years ago.