BAGHDAD: A military delegation from Iraq will visit Moscow in the near future to discuss the purchase of Russian weaponry, an Iraqi parliament member has said.
“A large delegation from the Iraqi Defense Ministry will travel soon to Moscow for talks on arms purchases [from Russia],” Abbas al-Bayati said in an interview with the Al Iraqiya television.
According to the Iraqi MP, Baghdad is seeking to sign arms contracts with Russia, Germany, France, Serbia and the United States by the end of 2011 “to complete the creation of Iraqi Armed Forces and security forces.”
Al-Bayati said the Iraqi leadership is interested in the diversification of arms suppliers, but takes into consideration the fact that “the military experience of the Iraqi army is based primarily on the Russian weaponry.”
The Soviet Union had been the main supplier of military equipment to Iraq before an international embargo against the country was imposed in 1990 following the Iraqi attack on Kuwait.
After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in April 2003, the Iraqi Armed Forces had to be recreated almost from scratch, and they are still not sufficiently equipped with modern weaponry, especially aircraft.
Russia and Iraq started the discussion of reviving military-technical ties during the visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to Moscow in April 2009.