MOSCOW, December 14. /TASS/. Russia believes that it essential to adhere to legal norms and maintain respect for the territorial integrity of the Republic of Iraq on the issue of independence for Iraqi Kurdistan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his annual news conference on Thursday.
"A referendum on independence was held, and then Kurdistan’s leader (Masoud Barzani) stated that the implementation of this decision should be postponed. Later, he resigned but the decision is active," Putin reiterated. "We regard it the way that everything should occur without any abrupt manifestations, within the current laws and with respect for Iraq’s territorial integrity, considering that the leadership of Kurdistan itself acted this way."
Russia is going to continue its cooperation with Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan, he said.
"Our companies, including Rosneft, are working in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan in particular," the Russian President said. "We believe this cooperation will benefit Iraq at large and Iraqi Kurdistan, and the Russian economy," Putin said.
"We traditionally have very good and trust-based relations with Kurdistan and Kurds in general," the President noted. "I understand all the complication of the matter, but considering all the sensitive points, nothing prevents us from developing relations with Kurd people," Putin added.
Three Russian companies are working on Iraqi fields now - Lukoil, Gazprom Neft, and Bashneft.
Iraqi Kurdistan is the unofficial name for the autonomous Kurdistan region, the area populated by Kurds in the north and northeast of the country in the Dohuk, Sulaymaniyah and Erbil Governorates. On September 25, a referendum of independence was held in Iraqi Kurdistan the autonomous status of which is enshrined in Iraq’s constitution. The local Higher Electoral Commission declared that more than 90% of the referendum participants had voted for the succession. The government in Baghdad considers that the referendum was held in violation of the main law and does not recognize the vote outcome.