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Russia views Pak as 'greatest' potential threat: US cable

Russia views Pakistan as the "greatest" potential threat to the regional stability and has de facto imposed embargo on the sale of weapons to Islamabad, according to a secret US diplomatic cable leaked by whistleblower Wikileaks website.

world Updated: Dec 04, 2010 23:31 IST

Russia views Pakistan as the "greatest" potential threat to the regional stability and has de facto imposed embargo on the sale of weapons to Islamabad, according to a secret US diplomatic cable leaked by whistleblower Wikileaks website.

In his 'secret' dispatch, US Ambassador to Moscow William J. Burns said Russia views Pakistan as the greatest potential threat to regional stability and Russian Foreign Minister ruling out weapons sales to Pakistan as far back as 2003.

"Russian decision-making process has led to a defacto embargo on weapons transfers to Iraq, where Russia is concerned over leakages to Iraqi insurgents and al-Qaeda; to a hands-off policy towards Pakistan, the country Russia views as the greatest potential threat to regional stability (with then-Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov ruling out weapons sales to Pakistan as far back as 2003)," Burns communicated in dispatch to Washington in October 2007.

Analysing the Russian arms export in which India and China remain big-ticket customers, Burns wrote: "While Russian experts still downplay the ability of the US to displace Russia in the Indian arms market, for reasons of cost and the legacy of decades' old dependence, they recognise increasing American inroads and growing influence."

"Senior officials maintain that Russia does take into account the impact on the stability of the region in determining whether to sell weapons and shares our concern about weapons falling into terrorists' hands," Burns, currently Under Secretary for Political Affairs with the State Department, noted in his analysis of the Russian arms exports.

However, he wrote that in the case of Iran and Syria, Moscow does not share Washington's concerns, albeit refrains from selling them offensive weapons.

In his secret dispatch from Moscow, Burns complained that Russian officials defend arms sales to countries of concern in narrow legal terms.

"In answering our demarches, MFA officials always identify whether the transfer is regulated by one of the multilateral arms controls regimes (e.g. Wassenaar Group, MTCR, etc.), UN resolutions, or Russian law," he wrote.

However, he conceded that the concern over leakage has prompted Russia to tighten its export controls, with the recent institution of new provisions in arms sale contracts for Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) that require end-user certificates and provide Russia the right to inspect stockpiles of weapons sold.