CHANGE OF STANCE?
The report did not mention accusations - made by a Syrian defense official who defected as well as by rebels - that deliveries of Russian small arms have increased since the uprising against Assad’s 14-year rule began.
The report from CAST, which maintains good relations with Russia’s arms industry, also made no mention of contracts between Moscow and Damascus for BMP-2 vehicles, which amateur videos show operating in Homs and other cities during army shelling.
Russia, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council with the power of veto, has been one of Assad’s staunchest allies and has shielded Syria from harsher international sanctions.
But the report suggested Russia would be amenable to freezing arms sales if it was convinced it was in its interests to end its relationship with Assad.
“Arms cooperation with Syria does not carry so much importance for Russia, neither on a commercial nor a defense relationship,” it said.
“If there is a break in future deliveries to Syria, it is probable that (state arms dealer) Rosoboronexport would not have any difficulty in giving the arms ordered by the Syrians ... to a third country.”
Russia has already frozen the delivery of an S-300 missile system as well as Iskander missiles, the report said, following concerns expressed by Israel that the systems could end up in the hands of the Iranian-backed Islamist movement Hezbollah.
A ship reportedly left Russia on June 24 carrying the delivery of Mi-25 helicopters after a failed attempt earlier this month. The delivery was initially stopped after its insurer withdrew its policy last week.