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Coats trying to hurt Russia arms exports

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., seeks to punish Russia’s state-run weapons exporter for the country’s takeover of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

Coats introduced legislation Monday to prohibit U.S. dealings with Rosoboronexport and companies that work with the Russian agency in the design and manufacture of military equipment. His proposal also would reduce U.S. aid to nations that acquire weapons from Rosoboronexport.

“This amendment would harm the Russian arms industry, the Russian economy, Russian prestige and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s standing in the world. That ought to be our goal,” he said in a Senate floor speech broadcast by C-SPAN.

Rosoboronexport’s website says that it “cooperates with more than 70 countries” and accounts for 80 percent of Russian arms exports. The U.S. Department of Defense has supplied helicopters to Afghanistan through Rosoboronexport.

Coats offered his amendment to a Ukraine aid and Russia sanctions bill. The bill advanced 78-17 in a procedural vote Monday, with Coats and Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., favoring it.

“The international response must be much more vigorous if we are to prove that Putin’s behavior is unacceptable and cannot be repeated,” Coats, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said ahead of the vote.

He said that “to do little more than prevent a handful of Russian officials from traveling abroad will show Putin and his cronies that in the end we actually do not mean what we say.”

Coats was referring to travel sanctions imposed recently against Russian leaders by the Obama administration and the European Union.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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