Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Kay Granger announced today they are offering an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) being debated by the House of Representatives. The amendment would strengthen the current prohibition on U.S. defense contracts with the Russian arms dealer Rosoboronexport, which also supplies arms to the Syrian regime.
"Russia's weapons shipments to Syria are enabling the mass murder being perpetrated by the Assad regime," DeLauro said. "Yet the Pentagon is subsidizing Russia's arms dealer, Rosoboronexport, through no-bid contracts for new Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan National Security Forces. Congress has made clear that the Department of Defense should no longer use taxpayer dollars to purchase equipment from Rosoboronexport, yet the Pentagon is skirting that law. This amendment will strengthen current law; I urge my colleagues to support it."
Granger said: "It is unconscionable that the Department of Defense purchases helicopters from Russia, the very country which continues to arm Assad's regime. Russia is indirectly subsidizing the grave humanitarian crisis in Syria. Not only is the Assad regime murdering innocent Syrians, it is also a threat to our allies, including Israel and Jordan, and jeopardizes the entire region's stability. We cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to go to any country that is complicit in atrocities like those being carried out by Assad."
The amendment seeks to ensure no funds are used by the Defense Department to purchase equipment from the Russian state arms dealer Rosoboronexport. It also requires any future contracts to purchase helicopters for the Afghan Security Forces be competitively bid.
The current prohibition on contracts with Rosoboronexport was included in last year's NDAA. In March, reports surfaced that Defense Secretary Hagel was purchasing 30 additional helicopters for the Afghan National Security Forces with funds that had already been authorized. A similar amendment to the one being offered by DeLauro and Granger was also included with the Defense funding bill that passed the Appropriations Committee yesterday.