Putin: Iran's "Flexibility" Behind Decision to Lift S-300 Ban
Russian President Vladimir Putin says Iran's willingness to try to reach a settlement over its nuclear program was behind his decision to clear the way for the possible sale of an S-300 air defense system to Tehran.
Mr. Putin spoke Thursday in an annual live question-and-answer session on Russian television, taking questions from members of the Russian public.
Moscow signed a contract worth $800 million back in 2007 to supply Tehran with five S-300 batteries. But Russia froze the contract three years later after the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran.
On Monday, hours after Moscow announced the decision to lift the ban, the U.S. Obama administration expressed concern over the development.
The U.S. State Department said transfer of S-300 missiles to Iran would not violate existing U.N. Security Council sanctions, but the U.S. believes "this is not the time" for the sale, given the unrest in the region.
G-7 Calls on Russia to Implement Minsk Accords
Foreign ministers from the world’s seven leading industrialized countries have called on Russia to rein in Ukrainian rebels and abide by two peace accords reached in Minsk designed to end the conflict. The call came in a communiqué at the end of a meeting in Luebeck, Germany.
Their host, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said they called for an end to the recent increase in violence in Ukraine, in spite of a ceasefire.
He also expressed concern about Russia’s decision to sell missiles to Iran, indicating the move is poorly timed with the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. “We have the opportunity within the next two-and-a-half months to reach a proper agreement, to get a proper result. So, I don’t think that we should preempt this issue and take steps that might be misunderstood by one side or another.”
This meeting brought together the foreign ministers of Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Canada and the United States for meetings on crises including Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and several in Africa.
Most of the G7 countries are also involved in the talks on Iran’s nuclear program, in which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been taking a leading role.
Secretary of State John Kerry said: “We are confident about our ability for the president to negotiate an agreement and to do so with the ability to make the world safer.”
Secretary Kerry said the Iran talks are “looming large” after he helped reach a framework accord two weeks ago, and with the deadline for a final agreement just two-and-a-half months away.
There was a heavy police presence in Luebeck for this meeting, as protesters gathered to march against G7 policies. But the violence that erupted during similar demonstrations a month ago in Frankfurt was not repeated.
These meetings involve considerable formality. But Minister Steinmeier said their importance is “underestimated,” though, as ministers have the chance to discuss crises that affect millions of people, and in which the world’s richest countries, and some of its largest militaries, have an important role to play.