The US government has enlisted Britain’s help in a bid to stop a ship suspected of carrying Russian attack helicopters and missiles to conflict-riven Syria, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.
The MV Alaed, a Russian-operated cargo vessel, is currently thought to be sailing through the North Sea after allegedly picking up a consignment of munitions and MI25 helicopters – known as “flying tanks” – from the Russian Baltic port of Kaliningrad.
Washington, which last week condemned Moscow for continuing to arm the Syrian regime, has asked British officials to help stop the Alaed delivering its alleged cargo by using sanctions legislation to force its London-based insurer to withdraw its cover.
Under the terms of the current European Union arms embargo against Syria, imposed in May last year, there is a ban on the “transfer or export” of arms and any related “brokering” services such as insurance. Withdrawal of a ship’s insurance cover would make it difficult for it legally to dock elsewhere and could force it to return the cargo to port.
The request to London from US officials comes after the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, disclosed on Tuesday that Moscow was in the process of shipping a batch of attack helicopters to Syria.
Dismissing Russian government claims that its weapons sales to Syria would not be used for internal repression, Mrs Clinton warned the shipment could “quite dramatically” escalate the conflict, which has already claimed an estimated 10,000 lives. Yesterday, the United Nations monitoring mission said it had suspended its work because of “intensifying” violence on either side, which was putting its teams of unarmed observers at risk.
Read More: Telegraph