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Lining Putin’s Pockets: Senators Want Obama to Call Off Contracts with Russian Arms Giant

Obama removed Bush's sanctions against Rosoboronexport, maintaining Russia was an ally. They've since taken more than $1 billion in taxpayers' cash.

by
Bridget Johnson

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March 27, 2014 - 6:36 pm
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WASHINGTON — While President Vladimir Putin has been violating a nuclear treaty, arming Bashar al-Assad and closing in on Eastern Europe, Russia’s state-owned arms behemoth has been cashing in on U.S. government contracts.

Arms exporter Rosoboronexport has raked in $1,133,783,077 in Defense Department contracts since 2011, according to federal contracting records. Shortly before these contracts began getting the green light, Rosoboronexport had been the subject of U.S. sanctions for assisting Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.

Since the arms giant supplied Assad with more than $1 billion in deliveries in 2011 alone, Congress leaned on the White House to cut a lucrative no-bid contract with Rosoboronexport to supply the Afghan military with Mi-17 helicopters.

President Obama last year skirted around an amendment passed unanimously by the Senate to prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to enter into agreements with Rosoboronexport, using a national security loophole to claim that dealing with the Russian firm was in America’s critical interest. As the death toll from Russian arms rose in Syria and protests from both sides of the aisle grew louder, the Pentagon agreed in November to cut its contact with the exporter short and canceled a $345 million order for 15 additional helicopters in Fiscal Year 2014.

Today, senators sent a strong bipartisan message to Obama: cancel all existing contracts with the Russian arms exporter including upcoming deliveries, scrap plans to ink new contracts, and put the company back on the sanctions list where it belongs.

“In light of the Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, we ask for your leadership in re-imposing sanctions on Rosoboronexport, Russia’s official state arms exporter, and fully severing the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) business relationship with this unsavory agency,” wrote the lawmakers. “Since 2011, DoD has awarded Rosoboronexport more than $1 billion in no-bid contracts for the procurement of Mi-17 helicopters. Prior to that, this agency had rightly been under U.S. sanctions for several years.”

The sanctions barring any business with the firm had been placed on Rosoboronexport by President George W. Bush in 2008. When Obama decided to lift the sanctions in May 2010, the administration rejected accusations that they were doing so in an attempt to butter up Russia to support the U.S. position on Iran at the UN Security Council.

“We felt that as Russia shared our concern about Iran and was willing to support the kinds of arms restrictions that are in the draft (UN) resolution, we felt confident that we could remove these penalties while protecting our non-proliferation interests,” then-spokesman P.J. Crowley said at the State Department at the time. “Actions are connected in the sense that clearly the actions Russia has taken over time have demonstrated that they take the situation with Iran seriously.”

Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), David Vitter (R-La.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) wrote in today’s letter to Obama that until the invasion of Ukraine, their key concern has been Assad “using these very weapons” obtained from Rosoboronexport “to murder innocent Syrian civilians, as confirmed by DoD.”

“We remain deeply troubled that DoD is sending huge cash payments to an agency that continues to enable mass murder,” they added.

“However, Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine give us a broader reason to put an end to DoD’s misguided business dealings with Rosoboronexport and sanction this agency. Rosoboronexport is an arm of the Russian government and a powerful instrument of Vladimir Putin’s increasingly belligerent foreign policy, and it handles more than 80% of Russia’s weapons exports. By obstructing the business of Rosoboronexport and limiting the income it provides to corrupt Russian officials, we would increase the costs of Putin’s aggression.”

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All Comments   (13)
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Well, at least we don't have the idiotic pro-Putin comments you see filling other blogs. What's the matter - we're not important enough for the Russian press office to send out some sock puppets?
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Doesn't the US have a helicopter building company or two that could supply the Afghans. Why would we ever give contracts to the Commies?

Dogs with Cats baby!!
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hmmm. Have we cancelled the use of Russian vehicles to get into space?
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
And if Obama doesn't do a damn thing that congress asks, what will they do about it? Absolutely nothing, just as they have to this point.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bridget, and now we have the IMF making a loan of billions of dollars to the Ukraine in order to pay higher energy prices. Don't they get their gas and oil from Russia? I have a feeling what we think we see is not what is going on. There is really no Obama VS Putin. I can still here Obama now, "I can do more after the elections".
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, and if we want to know what's next, let's look to see where the Hedge Fund Managers are makiing their bets. I guess we really are a bunch of chumps.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
The promised "flexibility" after Dear Leader's reelection.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), David Vitter (R-La.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) wrote in today’s letter to Obama that until the invasion of Ukraine, their key concern has been Assad “using these very weapons” obtained from Rosoboronexport “to murder innocent Syrian civilians, as confirmed by DoD.”

“We remain deeply troubled that DoD is sending huge cash payments to an agency that continues to enable mass murder,” they added.
Seriously? Our 'fearless leaders' are incorrigible liars. Follow the money for the last several decades to see that clearly. Innocent civilians are at risk everywhere because of their...outstanding morals and ethics. Don't kid yourself. Money money money...other peoples money to be precise...makes these guys giddy. An honest walk down memory lane proves it...without a doubt.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Communists aligned with American Marxists; that's not unusual. What IS unusual is that we do nothing about it.
"Reset-Button"????? That's a Marxist code-word for "we're with you comrade!"
Cut the crap and get real - We are being "governed" by a bunch of Marxist fools that are dreaming of being exactly like Russia. Czardom for me ... Surfdom for thee.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Apparently, Obama's 'reset button' with Russia involved trying to buy them off.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not really ... this has been the hallmark of U.S. Communists all along; propagandize and smooth over Russian aggression ("reset-button) and conspire to bring down the U.S.A. - along with the MB of course.
Far-fetched? Think again.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Soooo. We're borrowing money from China to buy helicopters from Russia to give to Afghanistan? Will Afghanistan or Russia be responsible for the debt to China in the future?
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
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