Secretary of State Madeleine Albright decided on March 29 to impose sanctions on three Russian companies for exporting an estimated $200 million in guided anti-tank missiles to Syria, which the United States classifies as a state-sponsor of international terrorism. The Tula Design Bureau, Volsk Mechanical Plant and Tsniitochmash will be prohibited from receiving U.S. financial assistance and U.S. munitions list items. In addition, U.S. companies will be proscribed from signing any contracts with the three companies.
The State Department admits, however, that it is unaware of any U.S. assistance to, contracts with or pending licenses for exports to the entities. The sanctions will be reviewed one year after the missile transfers end.
In taking the March 29 decision, Albright waived a federal law proscribing appropriation of U.S. Foreign Assistance Act funds to countries that export "lethal military equipment" to state-sponsors of international terrorism. Albright argued that it was in the U.S. national security interest not to cut assistance to Moscow because the funds will be used to promote Russia's economic, political and social transitions. The move saves Russia approximately $90 million in U.S. aid.