MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that only the U.N. Security Council can restrict Russian weapons sales abroad, a remark that appeared aimed to defend the Kremlin against criticism for supplies to the Syrian government.

"Only sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council can serve as a basis for limiting weapons supplies," Putin said, according to state-run Itar-Tass news agency. "In all other cases, nobody can use any pretext to dictate to Russia on how it should trade and with whom."

(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Writing by Steve Gutterman)