U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement today on reports that Russia is selling attack helicopters to the Syrian regime:
"Russia's delivery of attack helicopters to Syria will greatly enhance the ability of the Assad regime to wage war against the Syrian people. Moscow cynically warns that the danger of civil war in that country is growing, yet provides Damascus the weapons necessary to continue the onslaught.
"This is a replay of Moscow's providing weapons and assistance to Iran, which have enabled Tehran to repress the Iranian people and threaten its neighbors.
"Russia has long shielded the Iranian regime from pressure by the U.S. and other countries aimed at forcing Iran to stop its nuclear program. The fact that Russia is being allowed to host the latest round of meetings between the P5+1 countries and Iran means that it will be well-positioned to continue to curry favor with Tehran.
"In light of Russia's policy in Syria, the Obama Administration's string of concessions to Moscow must stop, including the latest effort to repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment to give Russia preferential trade benefits. We must not give a U.S. blessing to Russia's policies in Iran and Syria or we will simply invite Moscow to redouble its efforts to undermine U.S. interests around the world."
NOTE: The P5+1 countries are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, and China -- plus Germany. This format has been used to engage Iran in several rounds of discussions and negotiations regarding its nuclear program. The Jackson-Vanik amendment imposes significant trade restrictions on Russia. The Obama Administration is currently trying to persuade Congress to repeal it in order to allow Russia to be given Permanent Normal Trade Relations, (PNTR).