- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 16, 2015

The White House Thursday portrayed Russia as broke and “desperate” for moving ahead with the sale of an $800 million anti-missile system to Iran.

The pending sale is “an indication of how weakened their economy has become,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

Mr. Earnest said various analysts and commentators have speculated that Moscow is going forward with the deal “simply because they need the money.” He said due in part to U.S.-led economic sanctions over Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the Russian economy is projected to contract by 3.8 percent this year and that its leaders are “pretty desperate.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin defended the sale of the weapons system Thursday and said that Russia can withstand the sanctions. But that he wants to be considered an equal partner with the U.S. as a world power.

He warned the Obama administration that it should stop treating Russia as an inferior partner.

“The main condition is to have respect for Russia and its interests,” Mr. Putin said, adding that the United States “doesn’t need allies, they need vassals.”

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