By John Lee.
Iraq is to buy more than $4.2 billion of weapons from Russia under contracts signed in recent months, the Russian government announced on Wednesday, making it the largest weapons supplier to the Middle East country after the United States.
While a spokesman for Russia’s state-controlled arms exporter, Rosvooruzheniye, said it never discusses content of arms deals, the contracts are believed to include 30 Mi-28NE combat helicopters and 42 Pantsir-S1 mobile rocket launchers.
Russian state broadcaster RT says Iraq may also purchase Russian MiG fighter jets as well as armored vehicles.
Iraq is sending a clear signal to the U.S. that it can conduct an independent policy,” said Alexei Malashenko, a Middle East analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “The message is: ‘We can sign contracts with Russia if we like.’”
Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Russian security and defence think tank CAST, said “this is absolutely sensational”.
(Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg)