Financial News

  • 24 July 2014, 11:01

Govt Accused Of Russian Arms Double Standards

The UK Government has been accused of double standards over its continued arms sales to Russia.

It is still exporting £132m of weapons to Russia despite the shooting down of flight MH17 and previously promising to cancel all arms-related contracts to Moscow.

As of May, there were 285 outstanding licences allowing UK companies to export arms either to Russia or another country which might then in time sell weapons to Russia.

The Government responded by saying the licences were only weapons for civilian uses such as clay pigeon shooting.

However, Sir John Stanley, the chairman of Arms Exports Controls Committee, said details showed UK firms were selling missile parts.

When asked on Sky News whether it was certain the arms were not sold for Russian military use, Sir John, a Tory MP, said: "No, I don't think that is an assumption you can make.

"If you look in detail - and we have published the entire list of the exports that are extant to Russia - if you go through the entire list I don't think that components for air to air missiles, components for air to ground missiles, components for missile launchers ... are going to go to any civilian organisation in Russia.

"They must be going to the Russian security services and defence forces."

He has written to the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, asking whether the government plans to revoke the remaining licences.

In March, his predecessor, William Hague, promised "the UK will now, with immediate effect, suspend all extant licences and application processing for licences for direct export to Russia for military and dual-use items destined for Russian armed forces".

However, to date, only 34 of the 285 contracts have been cancelled and the list of arms and parts UK companies still sell to Russia includes sniper rifles, body armour, assault rifles, communications equipment, small arms ammunition and night sights.

In response to the figures, the Foreign Office issued a statement saying the "majority of export licences that remain in place for Russia are for commercial use but we are keeping all licences under review".

"This Government has not approved any licences for the export of rifles or ammunition to the Russian military," the statement added.

On Tuesday, France accused the UK Government of hypocrisy for putting pressure on them over a £1bn†arms contract with Moscow.

There were further questions raised for David Cameron over double standards when Labour released figures which it claimed showed the Conservatives had benefited from £1m†of donations from Russian firms and individuals.

Of particular note was an alleged†£160,000 payment from Lubov Chernukhin, whose husband was finance minister in Vladimir Putin's first administration, for a tennis match between the Prime Minister and Boris Johnson, with Tory strategist Lynton Crosby as ball boy.

It was an auction prize at a fundraising event.

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