$4.2 Billion Russian Arms Sale to Iraq Signals Shift Toward Moscow

By:  Christian Gomez
$4.2 Billion Russian Arms Sale to Iraq Signals Shift Toward Moscow

Iraq confirms that it will buy $4.2 billion in new Russian arms. The first Russian arms shipments are expected to arrive in Iraq no later than before this summer.

In a recent interview with the Voice of Russia radio, Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Hoshyar Zebari confirmed that Iraq would receive its first supply of arms shipments from Russia before the beginning of the summer, at the latest.

Russia is currently waiting for the Iraqi parliament to approve its 2013 federal budget, which has earmarked its first payment of the $4.2 billion total to Moscow for the weapons deal.

As part of the deal, Russia will supply Iraq with 50 Pantsir-S1 gun-missile short-range air defense systems and 30 advanced Mi-28NE attack helicopters.

The deal was originally announced on October 9, 2012, following a meeting between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Russian counterpart Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in Moscow.

Unconcerned about what the United States would have to say about the sale, Prime Minister al-Maliki insisted, “Iraq needs Russia’s support in building up its military and defense areas, in order to protect the country from terrorism.”

The deal appeared to collapse when “Ali al-Mussawi, the media advisor to the Iraqi prime minister, announced in December 2012 the cancellation of the arms deal with Russia,” amidst “corruption concerns,” according to Al-Monitor.

Now, however, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari noted otherwise during his interview. “Iraq and Russia will proceed with the arms deal signed by Maliki during his most recent visit to Moscow,” he stated.

Al-Monitor reported that earlier this year:

Maliki sent a delegation of army officers and weapons experts — headed by Iraqi Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations for the Iraqi Joint Forces Headquarters Gen. Aboud Kanbar — to Moscow to renegotiate the arms deal.

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