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Iraq may buy S-300 air defense systems from Russia, senior MP says

This file picture shows a Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system on display in an undisclosed location in Russia. (Photo by AP)

A senior Iraqi legislator says Baghdad intends to purchase Russian-built S-300 missile defense systems from Moscow to enhance capabilities of the armed forces and protect its territory against any act of aggression.

“An Iraqi delegation, led by Commander of the Air Force General Shihab Jahid Ali, recently visited Russia, where they held negotiations on procurement of S-300 systems,” Iraqi News Agency quoted the head of the Security and Defense Committee in the Iraqi parliament Muhammad Rida al-Haider as saying. 

The deal is however “on hold” for the time being, he said, without elaboration.

The lawmaker said Baghdad has already concluded several contracts with Moscow on modernization of an armored brigade.

Iraqi servicemen, Haider said, have “extensive experience using Russian military hardware, especially battle tanks and armored vehicles.”

Last November, an Iraqi parliamentarian said the United States was fiercely opposed to Iraq’s procurement of Russian-made S-400 air defense systems for fear of losing the aerial hegemony it enjoys in the region, as well as lucrative arms deals,

“The main reason is to prevent the Russian side from marketing its air defense systems in the region, whether it is Iraq, the Persian Gulf region, Iran or any other country in the Middle East, because the US, along with Israel, will lose its hegemony over the regional countries’ airspace, and its freedom of movement to target anti-Israel sites would be constrained,” Mohammed al-Baldawi, a member of the Security and Defense Committee in the Iraqi parliament, told al-Maalomah news agency.

“Another reason is the financial concerns, because the United States depends heavily on revenues from its arms sales, therefore, any attempt by Iraq or any other state to purchase Russian-built air defense systems will trigger US economic sanctions.”

In the aftermath of the US assassination of Iranian and Iraqi anti-war commanders in Baghdad in January 2020, the Kremlin offered S-400s to Iraq to “ensure the country’s sovereignty and reliable protection of airspace,” according to Ria Novosti news agency.

The United States has already warned Iraq, among a number of other countries, of the consequences of extending military cooperation with Russia, and striking deals to purchase advanced weaponry, particularly S-400 missile systems.

Former State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said once that the US had contacted many countries, including Iraq, to remind them of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), and possible consequences that would arise in the wake of defense agreements with Moscow.

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