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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sergeyev Says Russia Likely To Win Greek Missile Deal

Russia is likely to win a contract to supply an anti-aircraft system to Greece, acting Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said Wednesday.

Sergeyev spoke at a meeting with his visiting Greek counterpart, Akis Tsochadzopoulos. Moscow is presently courting Greece, a former Cold War foe turned potential customer for Russian weapons.

President Boris Yeltsin played host to Tsochadzopoulos on Tuesday, and Sergeyev said the Kremlin meeting reflected the high level of military and technical cooperation between the two countries.

Greece is modernizing its military and is shopping around the world for weapons it says will help protect its borders from Turkey -- a traditional rival, albeit a fellow NATO member.

Greek officials have previously said that weapons under consideration include Russia's Sukhoi fighter jets and the S-300 anti-aircraft system, a Russian rival to the U.S.-made Patriot missile.

Sergeyev noted that Greece is planning to choose between the S-300 and the Patriot in May. Both countries are to submit offers by April 15, Itar-Tass reported.

"I know the determination of the Greek minister to buy the best air defense system, and to date there is no better system than Russia's S-300 in the world," Sergeyev was quoted as saying.

Russia has sold a batch of S-300s to the Greek Cypriots in a deal that has angered Turkey.

The Greeks have claimed that the Pentagon has imposed an informal arms embargo against Greece on the grounds that expanded arsenals could bring Greece and Turkey closer to war. U.S. officials have denied the allegation.

Greece has been upset by what it perceives as U.S. hesitation to let its experts evaluate the Patriot and other modern weapons. That has led Athens to consider Russia and other potential suppliers.

Sergeyev said he did not expect pressure from the Americans if their is a Russia-Greece military deal.

"In competition, there may be only one pressure -- offering better hardware," he said.

Tsochadzopoulos also was due to meet Wednesday with Russia's acting Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, and to tour a plant producing MiG fighter jets.