In a letter sent Monday, Sen. John Cornyn (R., Tex.) pressed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to end the Defense Department’s no-bid contracts with Russian state-controlled arms export firm Rosoboronexport, which also supplies arms to Syria.
Cornyn, a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, urged Panetta to open the Defense Department’s procurement of Mi-17 helicopters, which it recently purchased for the Afghan military, to the bidding process, instead of relying solely on Rosoboronexport.
“Rosoboronexport, as the Assad regime’s chief supplier of weapons, is an enabler of mass murder in Syria,” Cornyn wrote. “Yet, in June 2011, two months after the Syrian uprising began, the DoD awarded a no-bid Army contract to Rosoboronexport for the purchase of Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan military. I remain deeply troubled that the DoD would knowingly do business with a firm that has enabled mass atrocities in Syria. Such actions by Rosoboronexport warrant the renewal of U.S. sanctions against it, not a billion-dollar DoD contract.”
The Department of Defense did not immediately return requests for comment.