Russia says after Raisi crash that U.S. undermined aviation safety with sanctions

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, commenting on the helicopter crash that killed Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, said on Tuesday that U.S. sanctions had worsened aviation safety.

Iranian media reported that images from the site showed the U.S.-made Bell 212 helicopter on which Raisi was travelling slammed into a mountain peak, although there was no official word on the cause of the crash.

Iran was a major buyer of Bell helicopters under the Shah before the 1979 Islamic revolution, though the exact origin of the aircraft that crashed was not clear. Decades of sanctions have made it hard for Iran to obtain parts or upgrade its aircraft.

"The Americans disown this, but the truth is that other countries against which the United States announced sanctions do not receive spare parts for American equipment, including aviation," Lavrov said about the crash.

"We are talking about deliberately causing damage to ordinary citizens who use these vehicles, and when spare parts are not supplied, this is directly related to a decrease in the level of safety."

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Mark Trevelyan)