Putin wants to peddle S-400s to Saudi Arabia, Rouhani laughs

As the New York Times has reported Russian President Putin spoke at a joint news conference in Ankara with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran on Monday after a meeting about the Syrian conflict.

US officials have blamed Iran for the attack on Saudi Arabia, while Turkey is a major regional rival to the kingdom, and Mr. Putin has sought to expand Russian influence on all three countries, including through weapons sales.

“The Quran says that any kind of violence is unacceptable, except for one kind of violence, when you protect your people,” Mr. Putin began. Of course, “protecting your people” can be interpreted in many ways.

“We are ready to help Saudi Arabia protect their people,” he said. “They need to make clever decisions, as Iran did by buying our S300, as Mr. Erdogan did by deciding to buy the most advanced S400 air defense systems.”

“These kinds of systems are capable of defending any kind of infrastructure in Saudi Arabia from any kind of attack,” he added.

Mr. Rouhani, seated next to Mr. Putin, laughed visibly. The broadcast on the state-owned Russian television network RT captured the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, chuckling to himself in the audience.