The British Government has been accused of double standards over arms sales to Russia, after it emerged that UK is continuing to export tens of millions of pounds worth of military equipment to the country, despite showing concerns that Moscow is arming separatist rebels in Ukraine.
Officials have approved a massive increase in weaponry to be sold to Russia with 251 export licenses for the sale of controlled goods worth at least £132 million remaining in force as told by The Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) goods – ranging from sniper rifles to night sights.
The disclosure comes after Prime Minister David Cameron who strongly criticized European countries such as France, which continue to pursue defense sales to Russia despite Moscow’s backing for the separatists. Downing Street insisted that any arms licenses granted for equipment to the Russian military had been suspended in the wake of the MH17 disaster after Mr. Cameron singled out French President Francois Hollande’s refusal to call off a £1bn deal to sell Moscow two helicopter carriers.
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to stop military sales to Russia which could be used against Ukraine, it has been revealed that just 31 licenses had been revoked or suspended while Russia had been removed as a permitted destination on three others. As the European Union last night announced it was considering targeting defense sales as part of widened sanctions against Moscow, Labor claimed the Conservative Party had also accepted donations worth more than £900,00 since 2007 from Russians with alleged links to the Russian government. The relatively small number of licenses which had been withdrawn reflected the “circumscribed” nature of Mr. Hague’s original statement which referred only to equipment which could be deployed against Ukraine and did not cover Russia’s wider defense requirements as told by CAEC chairman Sir John Stanley. While he said that Britain had been in the vanguard of European countries in taking action to curb defense sales to Russia, it had still not gone far enough.