June 15, 2012 - 17:59 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Russia is not delivering new military helicopters to Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry's information deparment said in a statement on Friday, June 15 in response to media reports claiming Syria was getting Mi-25 helicopter gunships from Moscow, RIA Novosti reported.
"As already stated, no new deliveries are being made to Syria of Russian military helicopters," the Foreign Ministry statement said, adding "all military-technical cooperation with Syria is limited to defensive weapons."
"As regards helicopters, there were planned overhauls of equipment supplied many years ago," the ministry said.
The ministry statement follows a denial by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday that new helicopters were being delivered.
“We are completing right now the implementation of contracts that were signed and paid for a long time ago,” Lavrov said after talks in the Iranian capital Tehran. “We are not delivering to Syria, or anywhere else, items that could be used against peaceful demonstrators,” Lavrov added.
The ministry's statement follows claims by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday that Russia was supplying helicopters to Syria which were being used against civilians in the insurrection in that country. Clinton later clarified her statements on Thursday, acknowledging that Russia was returning used equipment to Syria.
“Whether they are new or they are refurbished, the concern remains that they will be used for the exact same purpose that the current helicopters in Syria are being used, and that is to kill civilians,” State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, Al Arabiya reported.
“These are helicopters that have been out of the fight for some six months or longer. They are freshly refurbished. The question is simply what one expects them to be used for when one sees what the current fleet is doing.”