Russia will not support “crippling” sanctions against Iran and will supply anti-missile systems contracted by Tehran, a top Russian diplomat has said.

“The notion of ‘crippling sanctions' is totally unacceptable to us. Sanctions should aim to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Saturday.

“We certainly cannot talk about sanctions that may be interpreted as punishment of a whole country and its people for some action or inaction.

We will not embrace this stand,” said Mr. Ryabkov in an interview to the Interfax news agency.

The Minister made it clear that Moscow would not support a ban on the supply of oil products to Iran.

“I emphasise that Russia may only consider sanctions related to the strengthening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime,” he said.

Mr. Ryabkov said the standoff on uranium swapping may still be resolved if the sides showed flexibility and readiness for compromise on where the exchange should take place.

The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister also reaffirmed Russia's commitment to supplying S-300 missile defence systems to Iran.

Contract

“We have a contract to deliver these systems and we will honour it. Delays have been caused by technical problems in tuning up the systems,” said Mr. Ryabkov.

The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister was speaking a few days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow for talks on Iran with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The IsraeliPrime Minister claimed he had met with understanding in the Kremlin regarding “crippling sanctions” and non-supply of S-300 systems to Iran.

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