LONDON: Lawmakers on Wednesday queried why Britain had granted licences to sell tens of millions of pounds worth of arms to Russia, embarrassing Prime Minister David Cameron, who has called for a Europe-wide ban on such sales because of the Ukraine crisis.
The criticism, in a report compiled by four of parliament’s select committees, comes two days after the British leader said France’s sale of two helicopter carriers to Russia would be “unthinkable” in Britain.
The government said in March it would stop some arms exports to Russia, but the report said that as of mid-May only 34 of 285 outstanding licences, worth more than 131 million pounds ($223.41 million), had been suspended or revoked. “We should have been applying a more cautious approach for some considerable time towards Russia,” said John Stanley, chairman of parliament’s Committees on Arms Export Controls. “Many people ... given the nature of the Russian regime, will be wondering why it is the UK is giving export approval to a particular number of items on that list.”
Cameron said he believed the government had been consistent with the existing arms embargo, aimed at Russian military and goods which could be used in Ukraine, but that the government would review the remaining licences.
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