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Russian effort to send helicopters to Syria hits snag

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• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

The Russian helicopters bound for Syria – and at the center of a US-Russia diplomatic dispute – might not make it to Syria after all.

Standard Club, a British ship insurer, terminated insurance coverage of the Russian ship purported to be carrying arms after the company heard allegations about the cargo and destination, according to Russian news outlet RIA Novosti. The Russian ship is believed to be carrying refitted combat helicopters and antiship missiles to Tartous, Syria, where Russia has a naval base. Without insurance, however, ships cannot enter port.

The company told RIA Novosti that the British government did not influence its decision, but The Telegraph reports that British security officials told the Standard Club that providing insurance for the ship was likely a breach of European Union sanctions on Syria.

Russia has denied that the equipment could be used against Syrian civilians, insisting the materiel is for defensive purposes only. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said that the helicopters were supplied during the Soviet-era and were merely being returned to Syria under an already existing contract, according to RIA Novosti.

Russia has been the subject of intense international criticism for its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and for blocking any international efforts to take stronger action.

Some Syria observers see the shipment as undermining Russia's insistence that it opposes intervention in the conflict. The Telegraph's Middle East correspondent, Richard Spencer, writes:


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