UK still exporting arms to Russia

UK still exporting arms to Russia

Britain is continuing to export tens of millions of pounds worth of arms and other dual-use military equipment to Russia despite concerns Moscow is arming separatist rebels in Ukraine, MPs have warned.

Britain's Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls said that 251 export licences for the sale to Russia of controlled goods worth at least £132m remained in force.

Despite a promise in March by the then foreign secretary William Hague to stop military sales to Russia which could be used against Ukraine, it said that just 31 licences had been revoked or suspended while Russia had been removed as a permitted destination on three others.

Among the licences which remained valid were permits covering sniper rifles, night sights, small arms ammunition, gun mountings, body armour, military communications equipment, and “equipment employing cryptography”.

The disclosure comes after Britain's Prime Minister, David Cameron, yesterday strongly criticised European countries such as France which continue to pursue defence sales to Russia despite Moscow’s backing for the separatists.

The CAEC also strongly criticised the award of licences for the export of chemicals which could be used in the manufacture of chemical weapons to Syria.

It said the award by the previous Labour government of five licences for the export of sodium fluoride had been “highly questionable”, while the decision of the current Government to issue a further two licences for sodium and potassium fluoride after the civil war had begun was irresponsible.

It said that the current Government’s claim that it had no grounds to refuse the licences was “grossly inaccurate”.

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