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The largest deal for the last decade in Russian-Iraqi military cooperation to the tune of 4.2 billion dollars is under threat, the Kommersant daily reported. Spokesman of the Iraqi prime minister Ali al-Moussavi noted that the contract was annulled over corruption suspicions. Despite the fact that the Iraqi defence minister almost immediately dismissed al-Moussavi’s statement, the concerns over the disruption of the deal, are not groundless at all, the newspaper explained. Sources of the newspaper in the Russian governmental circles named the United States and Ukraine among possible rivals of the country. The rivals are convincing Baghdad that the sum of the contract is strongly overstated.
The deal between Russia and Iraq in military-technical cooperation that is the largest one since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s rule in Baghdad was announced during an October visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Moscow. Then it was reported that Iraq purchased 30 helicopter gunships Mi-28N and 42 air defence and artillery systems Pantsir-1 at the cost of 4.2 billion dollars. Meanwhile, the Kommersant daily reported that the countries agreed to launch negotiations over Iraq’s purchase of Russian fighters MiG-29M/M2.
Despite the pledges of the Iraqi defence minister Russia intends to demand official explanations from Baghdad. The newspaper reported that neither the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation nor Rosoboronexport, which is to effectuate the deal, received notifications about the annulment of the contract. The information about the cancelled deal was also not received on the diplomatic channels.
“The US has taken major efforts to hamper the deal,” a source in the Russian governmental circles told the Kommersant daily. “I will not be surprised that if they will seek to foil or complicate it post factum,” the source said. A source close to the Russian system of military-technical cooperation recalled that Ukraine was the first post-Soviet republic that was seeking to break through on the Iraqi military market, but Russia outstripped it that could not but raise concerns of rivalry in Kiev.
The Kommersant daily reported that Russian rivals are convincing Baghdad that the sum of the contract is strongly overstated. Meanwhile, the experts do not rule out that the factors in Iraq may also complicate the fulfilment of the Russian-Iraqi deal.
“A Kurdish enclave, which may lay the foundations for independent Kurdistan, was formed on some part of the Iraqi territory,” director of the Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Ruslan Pukhov said. “Kurdish representatives of the Iraqi leadership are reluctant to arm the central authorities in Baghdad with same helicopter gunships Mi-28N, which can be potentially used against the Kurds,” the expert affirmed.
If the Russian-Iraqi contract is fulfilled after all, Russia will become the second largest weapons supplier in Iraq (the United States retains the top place), the newspaper noted. This factor creates good prerequisites for further promotion of Russia on the Iraqi market, which the experts estimate as very promising.
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily also does not rule out that the US showed its pressure after all. The US companies, which can earn themselves of the supplies of weapons in that country, do not want to tolerate a rival on the Iraqi military market. Some experts, which were polled by the newspaper, claimed that these US companies could have staged a scandal with the annulled Moscow contract through its lobbyists in Baghdad.
The newspaper also named other versions of the conflict. Some specialists believe that the Iraqi government just failed to divide a bonus, which is due to concrete mediators for the concluded major weapons contract. Some experts named the sum of 500 million dollars and more. It is impossible to say whether this is so or not. The arms trade has always been a delicate and extremely secret business.