Speaking in Tehran, Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said Moscow was instead “completing contracts that were signed and paid for a long time ago. All of them are contracts for what are solely air defence systems.”

He said: “We do not supply Syria or anyone else with resources that are used in fighting peaceful demonstrators” – and, seeking to turn the tables on Mrs Clinton, added, “unlike the United States, which regularly supplies that region with such special equipment, including one such shipment [that] went to one of the Gulf countries recently, but for some reason the Americans consider this to be in order”. …

Fyodor Lukyanov, chief editor of the Moscow-based journal Russia in Global Affairs, said the exchange between Moscow and Washington appeared to be a “psychological propaganda war”. He added that Mrs Clinton’s comments seemed intended to put “psychological pressure on Russia by creating the [international] impression that the only thing Russia cares about is money”.