Putin warned US before drone was shot down not to attack Iran

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Vladimir Putin on Thursday warned President Trump not to use military force on Iran despite the Islamic Republic’s recent provocations — in comments apparently made before the US charged that Iran had shot down a military drone with a surface-to-air missile.

During a marathon, four-hour call-in show, Putin warned the US that an attack on Iran would have enormous consequences, adding it would trigger an escalation of hostilities across the region.

“It would be a catastrophe for the region as a minimum,” said the Russian strongman, an ally of the Iranian regime.

Tensions have been mounting recently over last week’s attacks on tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, assaults that Washington has blamed on Iran, which has denied the accusations.

Then, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said Thursday it had shot down the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone over Iranian airspace, while the US said the downing happened over international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz.

The US Central Command called it an “unprovoked attack” and President Trump tweeted that “Iran made a very big mistake” in shooting it down.

In his remarks, Putin noted that Iran has abided by the terms of a landmark nuclear deal despite the US withdrawal from the accord, adding that he considers American sanctions against Iran unfounded.

Asked if Russia could be willing to negotiate a “grand bargain” with the US on Syria and other issues, Putin responded by saying that “we aren’t trading in our allies, our interests and our principles.”

The Russian strongman also said he was open to a sit-down with Trump but wasn’t holding his breath about tensions easing with Washington any time soon.

Trump said he would meet with Putin on the sidelines of next week’s G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan — but the Kremlin noted that the White House hasn’t formally requested the meeting yet.

Speaking during a live marathon call-in show that lasted more than four hours, Putin said talks could be productive.

“Dialogue is always good and necessary,” Putin said. “If the American side shows interest in that, we are naturally ready for a dialogue as much as our partners are.”

Putin acknowledged that US and the EU sanctions had cost Russia an estimated $50 billion since 2014, but he claimed that EU nations have suffered even greater damage because of the restrictions.

The Russian leader said the sanctions have encouraged Moscow to launch its own production of ship engines and other key industrial products and develop its agricultural sector. He said Russia’s agricultural exports topped $25 billion last year and will keep growing.

Putin charged that the Western sanctions represent an attempt to curb Russia’s growing power, adding that US trade restrictions against China serve a similar purpose.

He noted US sanctions against the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, describing it as part of Team Trump’s efforts to “contain the development of China as a global power.”

“The same thing is happening with regard to Russia and it will keep going. So if we want to win a place under the sun, we simply need to get stronger, primarily in the economic sphere,” he said.

With AP

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