Kremlin aide says Russia will fulfill Syria arms contracts

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A senior Kremlin aide defended Moscow’s right to deliver weapons to the Syrian government on Friday and said an EU decision to let an arms embargo lapse would hurt efforts to organize peace talks.

Yuri Ushakov, President Vladimir Putin’s aide on foreign policy, said the EU’s decision was “not conducive to preparations for such an important international event” and that Russia would fulfill its arms contracts with the Syrian government, despite Western criticism.

Interfax reported on Friday that Russia could supply 10 ultra-modern MiG-29 fighter jets to Syria under a possible contract being discussed with a visiting delegation from Damascus.

The Russian news agency quoted MiG corporation director general Sergei Korotkov as saying that the details of the contract were now under discussion.

“There is a Syrian delegation in Moscow at the moment. We are determining the details of this contract,” Interfax quoted Korotkov as saying.

“I think that they will be delivered to Syria,” he added in apparent reference to the MiG-29 fighters, which are one of the most modern jets used in the Russian air force today.

The Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies said the contract involved 10 fighter jets without giving further details.

Earlier on Friday, two Russian newspapers said that Russia may not deliver a hugely controversial consignment of S-300 air defense missile systems to the Syrian regime this year, rejecting claims the weapons had already arrived in the country.

The Vedomosti daily cited a Russian defense industry source as saying it was unclear if the weapons would be delivered to Syria this year while the Kommersant daily quoted its source as saying that delivery was only planned in the second quarter of 2014.

President Bashar al-Assad appeared to imply in an interview with Al-Manar television broadcast Thursday that Russia had already delivered some of the promised ground-to-air S-300 missile systems.

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