Iraq Buys Russian Attack Helicopters and Anti-Aircraft Missiles in $4.2 Billion Deal
The multi-billion deal was disclosed following a meeting Tuesday between Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow, the Russian capital. Al-Maliki also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Moscow Kremlin on Wednesday.
As part of the deal, Iraq will purchase 30 Russian Mil Mi-28NE Havoc attack helicopters, worth approximately $2 billion, and 42 Pantsir short-to-medium-range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon systems, worth approximately $2.2 billion. In addition, the Iraqi government is also considering to purchase a number of Russian MiG fighter jets as well as armored vehicles.
“I think that we could also develop cooperation in security and military affairs. We should also exchange our latest views and assessments of the regional situation and other issues of mutual interest,” al-Maliki told Putin during their meeting on Wednesday. He also welcomed the news that direct passenger flights between Russia and Iraq are being considered.
The arms deal, among the biggest ever signed between the two countries, make Russia the second-biggest weapons supplier to the Middle Eastern country after the United States. Some experts have pointed out that the deal could represent a break from the American arms supply toward Iraq.
So far Kenya has been the only country outside of Russia to operate the Mi-28, though Venezuela and Turkey have placed orders for the choppers and North Korea has shown interest in the past.