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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Sells Greek Cypriots Missiles Despite U.S. Protest




Russia plans to deliver advanced antiaircraft missiles to the Greek Cypriot government in August, despite American protests that the sale will inflame tensions on the island, part of which is Turkish-controlled.


The United States has repeatedly sought to block the sale of the S-300 system, as the missiles are known, and Turkey has even warned that it may take military action. But Tuesday, the head of the Russian arms sales company Rosvooruzheniye, Yevgeny Ananyev, said Russia was determined to ship the weapons.


"The S-300 systems will be delivered on schedule according to the contract," Ananyev said. "They will be shipped late in July. I believe that Cyprus will get them in August."


The disclosure of the sale comes at a particularly sensitive moment for Cyprus, which has been divided between ethnic Greeks and Turks since 1974. Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy for Cyprus, is to arrive there Friday to try to restart negotiations between the two sides.


Greek Cypriot officials have hinted that they may defer or cancel the purchase if serious negotiations get under way. But U.S officials say the sale is needlessly provocative and complicates their diplomatic efforts.


The dominant view among American officials is that the sale is part of a disturbing pattern in which Moscow has used exports to prop up its ailing military industry with little regard for the foreign policy consequences.


Some American specialists, however, believe Russia also has other motivations: extending Moscow's influence to the region and creating problems for NATO by encouraging strains between Greece and Turkey, two members of the Western alliance.