Putin Defends Iran Missile Deal as Increasing Security in Light of Yemen

'Such arms supplies are a deterrent,' he said during his annual television call-in show about the deal to sell S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, March 27, 2015.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, March 27, 2015.Credit: AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday defended his decision to resurrect a deal to sell missiles to Iran, saying it increases security in light of the conflict in Yemen.

"Under the present conditions in the region, especially regarding events in Yemen, such arms supplies are a deterrent," he said during his annual television call-in show about the deal to sell S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran.

Saudi Arabia and eight fellow Sunni Arab countries are waging an air campaign in Yemen after advances by the mainly Shi'ite Houthi rebel movement forced President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi to flee the country. The Saudis have accused Shi'ite Iran of aiding the Houthis. Both Tehran and the Houthis have denied the accusation.

Putin claimed that U.S. arms deliveries to the Middle East far exceeded Russia's.
He reiterated his argument that the missiles are purely defensive weapons. "This does not threaten Israel in any way," he said.

Israel has charged that the missile deal will embolden Iran to support extremist groups and further undermine stability in the Middle East.

The United States and the European Union have also voiced concern over the deal.

Putin repeated Moscow's line that the missile deal is a goodwill gesture after Iran reached a framework agreement on its nuclear programs this month with the five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

"We need to support our Iranian partners in keeping on the path of cooperation," he said.

The president also stressed that Russia had strong financial interests in the missile deal, saying it is worth about 900 million dollars.

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