MOSCOW, February 16 (RIA Novosti) - Finnish authorities are investigating a suspected attempt to deliver tank parts from Russia to Syria in breach of EU regulations, the Finnish Customs said on Friday.
According to a statement posted on the Finnish Customs website, an inspection by Helsinki customs officials on January 8-9 revealed that a Syria-bound container unloaded from a ship at the Vuosaari Harbor contained “spare parts of tanks.”
“According to expert statements obtained during the investigation of the matter, the goods in the container are spare parts of tanks which the Customs Investigation Service has seized in connection with the investigation,” the statement reads.
“Initial information indicates that the case involves a commercial transport from Russia to Syria,” Finnsih Customs said.
The statement did not disclose the consignor or consignee of the goods, citing “investigative reasons” and secrecy provisions of the Finnish Act on the Openness of Government Activities. It said that the delivery, transfer and export of tank spare parts from Finland’s territory to Syria is prohibited according to “an EU Council Decision.”
Finnlines, the company that carried the container onboard its ship, said on its website that the cargo was “loaded on board MV Finnsun in St. Petersburg on 20.12.2012.”
It said the fact that the container’s contents were “military vehicle equipment” bound to Syria was revealed in Antwerp on January 3, “based on the normal re-checking procedure of the contents of the cargoes on board.”
“Therefore the cargo was not unloaded in Antwerp and under Finnish law Finnlines could not take the container back to St. Petersburg,” Finnlines said in a statement.
The company decided to keep the container on board and bring it to customs authorities in Helsinki.
Anatoly Isaikin, the head of Russia’s state-run arms dealer Rosoboronexport, said last week Syria was the 13th or 14th largest buyer of Russian arms. He said the Moscow still has outstanding contracts with Damascus, but did not provide any details, citing commercial confidentiality.