Moscow has reacted angrily to US sanctions slapped on three Russian firms last week for allegedly selling banned weaponry to countries like Syria, Iran and Libya.
"The United States are not for the first time trying to extend their national laws illegally to foreign countries, forcing them to work according to American rules," said a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry at the weekend.
The three Russian companies — state arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport, the Tula Instrument-Making Design Bureau, and the Kolomna Machine-Building Design Bureau — have been accused of selling missiles, anti-tank weapons and other modern arms to countries the US designates as "unfriendly".
The Bush administration announced the measures against 24 foreign entities, including Russian, Chinese and North Korean arms companies on Friday. The sanctions prohibit the firms from doing business in the US or with any American corporations for two years.
Following last summer's Lebanon war, Israel officially complained that new Russian anti-tank missiles, such as the laser-guided Kornet-E, had been used in large numbers against Israeli armour by Hezbollah guerrillas. The Kornet was designed by the Tula Instrument firm, and has reportedly been exported to countries like Syria and Eritrea.
Russia has sold a variety of conventional weapons to Iran, including Kilo-class submarines, MiG-29 fighters and advanced Tor-M1 anti-aircraft systems. The official ITAR-Tass agency reported last week that about half of the 29 Tor-M1 units ordered by Iran, at a cost of $1.4-billion, have already been delivered.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov alleged on Saturday that American sanctions are motivated by commercial jealousy over Russia's growing arms exports rather than any legitimate legal concerns.
"None of the three Russian companies broke any international norms, rules and obligations undertaken by the Russian Federation on nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missile technology," Ivanov said.