The European Union approved an arms embargo on Syria last year. The UN Security Council has sought to do the same, but has been blocked by Russia, which has veto power.
Experts say Russia has felt badly burned by Western-sponsored sanctions against selected Middle East regimes, which have cost Moscow some of its most lucrative customers, even as the US continues to negotiate huge arms sales to its own regional clients -- including recent deals worth $60 billion to Saudi Arabia and $3.5 billion to the United Arab Emirates.
According to the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade (CAWAT), Russia lost as much as $4.5 billion in broken weapons deals with Muammar Qaddafi's Libya and another $13 billion as a result of UN Security Council-approved sanctions that forced Moscow to cancel all its major arms contracts with Iran.
Russia is thought to have up to $5 billion in potential arms exports to Syria in the pipeline, including sales of warships, submarines, modern T-90 tanks, MiG-29 fighters, and Iskander-E tactical missiles.