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|Добавлено: Пятница, 15 Июнь 2012, 09:32:51 Заголовок сообщения: Кто поставляет оружие сирийским повстанцам?
Copters in Syria May Not Be New, U.S. Officials Say
By ERIC SCHMITT, MARK LANDLER and ANDREW E. KRAMER
WASHINGTON — When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton accused Russia on Tuesday of shipping attack helicopters to Syria that would “escalate the conflict quite dramatically,” it was the Obama administration’s sharpest criticism yet of Russia’s support for the Syrian government.
What Mrs. Clinton did not say, however, was whether the aircraft were new shipments or, as administration officials say is more likely, helicopters that Syria had sent to Russia a few months ago for routine repairs and refurbishing, and which were now about to be returned.
“She put a little spin on it to put the Russians in a difficult position,” said one senior Defense Department official.
Mrs. Clinton’s claim about the helicopters, administration officials said, is part of a calculated effort to raise the pressure on Russia to abandon President Bashar al-Assad, its main ally in the Middle East. Russia has so far stuck by Mr. Assad’s government, worried that if he were ousted, Moscow would lose its influence in the region.
In response to Mrs. Clinton’s allegations, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, accused the United States of hypocrisy on Wednesday, saying it had supplied weapons that could be used against demonstrators in other countries in the region. Mr. Lavrov, during a visit to Iran, repeated Russia’s claim that it is not supplying Damascus with any weapons that could be used in a civil war.
“We are not providing Syria or any other place with things which can be used in struggle with peaceful demonstrators, unlike the United States, which regularly supplies such equipment to this region,” Mr. Lavrov said. He singled out a recent delivery to “one of the Persian Gulf states” — perhaps a reference to Bahrain. “But for some reason the Americans consider this completely normal.”
Syria has long been a staunch Russian ally and is home to Russia’s only naval base on the Mediterranean Sea. But American officials have warned the Russians that Mr. Assad’s exit is inevitable, and that if Russia wants to preserve its influence in Syria, it needs to be part of the effort to arrange a political transition. If Russia is viewed as complicit in the Assad government’s attack on its own people, these officials said, it would be shunned by any new Syrian government, as well as by the rest of the Arab world, which is increasingly appalled by the violence.
Mrs. Clinton underscored this point in remarks Wednesday after meeting with India’s foreign minister: “Russia says it wants peace and stability restored. It says it has no particular love lost for Assad. And it also claims to have vital interests in the region and relationships that it wants to continue to keep. They put all of that at risk if they do not move more constructively right now.”
Though Mrs. Clinton’s remarks about the helicopters came in answer to a question at a session sponsored by the Brookings Institution, they were part of a lengthy discussion of the West’s options in dealing with Syria and seemed anything but accidental.
Administration officials declined to give details about the helicopters, saying the information was classified. But White House and intelligence officials have backed up the substance of her comments. Some officials said that whether the helicopters were new or refurbished, they were equally deadly when turned against the civilian population.
“What Secretary Clinton said was a continuation of what we’ve been saying,” the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, told reporters. “The situation in Syria is obviously terrible. Assad’s brutality is unacceptable. He will go down in history as a tyrant who will be loathed by generations of Syrians who are the victims of his brutality.”
Timing may have also driven Mrs. Clinton. In her remarks, she noted that the United Nations Security Council must decide by mid-July whether to extend the mandate for Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan, which included putting monitors on the ground to try to ensure the government and rebel fighters were abiding by the terms of a cease-fire. Mr. Annan is the special envoy for the United Nations and the Arab League.
“Certainly, if there is no discernible movement by then,” Mrs. Clinton said, “it will be very difficult to extend a mission that is increasingly dangerous for the observers on the ground.”
There have been scattered reports since April of the Syrian government’s firing missiles from Russian-made helicopters rather than just the machine guns used previously. A video of a helicopter shot near Aleppo in May shows the distinctive smoke of what would appear to be a missile, although the authenticity of such recordings is difficult to prove.
A single Russian state-owned arms monopoly, Rosoboronexport, handles all or nearly all formal weapons exports, including helicopters produced by a variety of enterprises in Russia. Rosoboronexport is also the sales agent handling the American-financed contract for Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan military.
A company spokesman, Vyachislav Davidenko, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that Rosoboronexport is fulfilling its contracts to Syria because they do not violate United Nations sanctions. Russia has blocked any effort at the Security Council to impose sanctions against Syria.
The company, he said, has not adjusted its arms trading because of the violence. It is sending “no extraordinary supplies, not speeding up contracts, and sending no additional shipments.” Asked if helicopters could be en route to Syria after undergoing repairs in Russia, Mr. Davidenko said “that seems to be the case” but said he could not verify it.
Other sources indicate that the Syrian arsenal included Russian helicopter gunships long before the outbreak of violence. The Armed Forces Review, for example, reported in an article published on June 6 that Syria has a total of 86 Mi-24 and Mi-25 helicopters. It also has dozens of older Mi-17 helicopters, which can be used as transport or attack aircraft, American military officials said.
One prominent independent Russian military analyst, Ruslan Pukhov, the director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said in a telephone interview that Syria purchased its helicopter fleet in the 1980s and 1990s, and has not bought a new Mi-24 aircraft in at least a decade.
Rosoboronexport often services client helicopters in Russia for regular overhauls and repairs, Mr. Pukhov said. Syria signed such a contract “well before the Arab Spring began,” perhaps four or five years ago, he said.
Day-to-day maintenance on the helicopters is performed by “legions” of Russian technicians working in Syria, a senior Defense Department official said. For major repairs, the aircraft are sent to Russia in batches, overhauled at their required service intervals, and returned to Syria, Mr. Pukhov said.
American analysts said the Syrian government’s use of helicopters has not only escalated the conflict but could make it more difficult for the United States and other countries to avoid being drawn into it.
“We can no longer say the regime is not using air power against the civilian population,” said Andrew J. Tabler, an expert on Syria at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “That brings the discussion of intervention and ‘no-fly zones’ closer.”
Eric Schmitt and Mark Landler reported from Washington, and Andrew E. Kramer from Moscow. Ellen Barry contributed reporting from Moscow, and Neil MacFarquhar from Beirut, Lebanon.
A la guerre comme a la guerre или вторая редакция Забугорнова