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MPs warn arms are still going to Russia

ARMS and other dual-use military equipment worth tens of millions of pounds are still being exported from Britain to Russia, MPs have warned, despite fears Moscow has been arming the separatist rebels in Ukraine.

In March, William Hague, the then foreign secretary, pledged to stop military sales to Russia, which could be used against Ukraine, but in a critical report the House of Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) said only 31 out of nearly 290 licences had been revoked or suspended.

This meant licences worth at least £132m were still in force.

These included permits for sniper rifles, night sights, small arms ammunition, gun mountings, body armour, military communications equipment and "equipment employing cryptography".

Sir John Stanley, the CAEC chairman, pointed out how Britain had been in the vanguard of European countries taking action to curb defence sales to Russia but it had still not gone far enough.

"Russia is an authoritarian regime.

"We should have been applying a more cautious approach for some time in regard to Russia," said Sir John, who has written to Philip Hammond, the new foreign secretary, asking if he will be suspending or revoking the remaining licences.

But, in response, No 10 made clear that a ban on all arms exports to the Russian military was "comprehensive".

The CAEC also strongly criticised the award of licences for the export of chemicals, which could be used in the manufacture of chemical weapons to Syria.

It said the award by the previous Labour government of five such licences had been "highly questionable" while the decision by the Coalition to issue a further two such licences after the civil war had begun was irresponsible.

MPs said that the UK Government's claim it had no grounds to refuse the licences was "grossly inaccurate".

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