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Moscow (CNSNews.com) – Playing both sides of one of the Mideast’s most bitter rivalries, President Vladimir Putin offered this week to supply Saudi Arabia with Russia’s most advanced air defense systems following a drone attack on Saudi oil infrastructure which the U.S. is blaming on Iran.
Putin was in Ankara on Monday for Syria-focused talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. During a joint press conference, Putin was asked about the September 14 drone strike.
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He responded by suggesting that Saudi Arabia should purchase Russian S-300 or S-400 air defense systems – as the governments of the two men he sat alongside have done.
“In order to protect them and the country, we are ready to provide the necessary assistance to Saudi Arabia,” he said through a translator. “All the political leaders of Saudi Arabia have to do is take a wise decision, as Iran did by buying the S-300 missile system, and as President Erdogan did when he bought Russia’s latest S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft system.”
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“They would offer reliable protection for any Saudi infrastructure facilities,” Putin added.
Apparently enjoying the moment, Rouhani asked with a laugh, “So do they need to buy the S-300 or the S-400?”
“It’s up to them to decide,” Putin replied.
Although lighthearted in tone, the comments raised eyebrows, as Russia is viewed as an ally of Iran, yet the U.S. administration is accusing Iran of being behind the Saudi drone attack – a charge Tehran denies. Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the incident.
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Putin was also likely taking a veiled dig at the U.S., which has long supplied Saudi Arabia with Patriot and other missile defense systems.
The S-400 is a surface-to air-missile system capable of targeting aircraft, drones, and missiles within a 400 kilometer (250 mile) range and at an altitude of up...
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