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Chemezov Says Russia Might Still Sell S-300s to Iran

Doublespeak and sudden policy reversals are nothing new for the Russian diumvirate of Putin and Medvedev – it’s long been an operational philosophy (or the accidental result of a fragmented and clan-divided foreign policy).  It is also, notes Simon Schuster in a new piece in Time, becoming increasingly common in the arduous and probably pointless effort on behalf of the Obama administration to gain Russian support for sanctions.  The latest 180 degree turn comes from the delightful Sergei Chemezov of weapons seller Rosoboronexport with regard to the S300 anti-air missiles.

But on Thursday, Sergei Chemezov, the head of Russia’s state weapons exporter and a long-time friend of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, said the sale had not been frozen. “The final decision on signing or dropping the contract must be made by the President,” Chemezov said at a summit on Russian-German relations in the Russian city of Ekaterinburg.

There’s a lot of reasons for this – such as Russia wanting to collect on an $800 million contract and avoid a $400 million penalty for canceling and other cuts in Iranian business.  But most importantly, they are concerned about security in the neighborhood…

“So if it wants, Iran has many ways of inflicting damage on Russia, of shifting the security landscape in Central Asia and the Caucasus in a way that could destabilize the region,” says Fyodor Lukyanov, political analyst and editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs. “It has not yet done that, but if there is a radical change in relations with Russia, it can.”