From Russia, with Love

The Hill published a story today about a Russian defense firm that is supporting an Iranian missile program.

That headline may seem disturbing from a vague “the world is getting smaller” perspective. Well, it’s getting even smaller.

Rosoboronexport, the Russian arms company, is also under contract with the US Department of Defense (DoD) to supply Mi-17 helicopters to Afghan security forces.

DoD officials could cut off Rosoboronexport, as some in power have urged. Among the “some in power” is Sen. John Cornyn, who sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, demanding that the DoD end its multimillion-dollar contract with Rosoboronexport.

Sen. Cornyn said the Pentagon’s business dealings with the firm hurt the US and international diplomatic and economic efforts to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad from power.

Syria? Wait. I thought you said Iran!

I did. In addition to supporting Iran’s missile program, Rosoboronexport provided weapons to Syrian forces loyal to President Assad. Those weapons were used to massacre anti-government rebels fighting to overthrow Assad, an end result that the US openly favors.

Sen. Cornyn’s letter said Rosoboronexport’s actions, “warrant the renewal of U.S. sanctions against it, not a billion-dollar DoD contract”.

The problem is, the consequences of taking such action against the company would cost the US troops crucial Mi-17 supplies, which would significantly delay US training of Afghan forces …

…which would adversely affect the capability of the Afghan military…

… which is a critical element in the White House plan to bring all American troops home from Afghanistan by 2014.