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Russia warns could change stance at Iran talks over Crimea

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Russia threatened late Wednesday that it could alter its position at Iranian nuclear talks in response to pressure from the European Union and United States over its seizure of Crimea.

"We would not like to use these talks as an element of a stakes-raising game taking into account the moods in various European capitals, in Brussels and Washington," deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency.

Ryabkov was speaking in Vienna after the latest round of Iranian talks involving Russia. Those at the talks included the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who said he saw "signs" a long-term nuclear deal could be reached.

Under an interim agreement Iran struck with the six powers in November, the two sides are aiming for a long-term deal by a July 20 target date.

But Rybakov warned that Russia, that joined the West in urging Tehran to curtail its nuclear activities, could shift its stance, saying it considered its "historic" role in Crimea more important.

"But if we are forced, here we will take the path of counter-measures, because when it comes down to it, the historic value of what has happened in recent weeks and days from the point of view of restoring historical justice and reuniting Crimea and Russia is incomparable with what we are doing" on Iran, he said.

"At the end of the day, the choice and the decision is down to our colleagues in Washington and Brussels," Ryabkov said.

"It depends on them whether or not these talks will be successful, whether or not we will take the path of counter measures... That is, the choice is entirely on their side, not ours."

He said that Russia did not want to "play along with the Americans, the European Union or the Iranians," but wanted to follow its "fundamental, deep and very well defined personal interest."

Russia threatened late Wednesday that it could alter its position at Iranian nuclear talks in response to pressure from the European Union and United States over its seizure of Crimea.

“We would not like to use these talks as an element of a stakes-raising game taking into account the moods in various European capitals, in Brussels and Washington,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency.

Ryabkov was speaking in Vienna after the latest round of Iranian talks involving Russia. Those at the talks included the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who said he saw “signs” a long-term nuclear deal could be reached.

Under an interim agreement Iran struck with the six powers in November, the two sides are aiming for a long-term deal by a July 20 target date.

But Rybakov warned that Russia, that joined the West in urging Tehran to curtail its nuclear activities, could shift its stance, saying it considered its “historic” role in Crimea more important.

“But if we are forced, here we will take the path of counter-measures, because when it comes down to it, the historic value of what has happened in recent weeks and days from the point of view of restoring historical justice and reuniting Crimea and Russia is incomparable with what we are doing” on Iran, he said.

“At the end of the day, the choice and the decision is down to our colleagues in Washington and Brussels,” Ryabkov said.

“It depends on them whether or not these talks will be successful, whether or not we will take the path of counter measures… That is, the choice is entirely on their side, not ours.”

He said that Russia did not want to “play along with the Americans, the European Union or the Iranians,” but wanted to follow its “fundamental, deep and very well defined personal interest.”

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