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Iraq in talks to purchase Russia missile defence systems 

January 10, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Russian S-400 air defence system, 6 September 2018 [Facebook]

Iraq has revived talks with Russia to buy its S-300 surface-to-air missile defence systems, according to Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti which cited a senior Iraqi lawmaker.

The US air strikes on factions belonging to the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), known locally as Hashd Al-Shaabi, prompted the Iraqi government to “resume negotiations regarding the S-300 deal”, said Mohammad Ridha, chairman of the country’s Security Defence Committee, Sputnik reported yesterday.

The air strike on either side of the Syria-Iraqi border killed 25, nine of which are believed to be PMF fighters, with the remainder being Iraqi servicemen.

Igor Kurushchenko, a member of the General Council of the Russian Ministry of Defence, has previously suggested that Iraq could improve its air defence system with the help of the more advanced Russian S-400 missile system, arguing that it can ensure the country’s sovereignty and protection.

The American air strike was said to be in retaliation for the killing of an American “contractor” at an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk, although no evidence has been provided. The events led to anti-American demonstrations at the US embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.

READ: Iraq carries out first military operation against Daesh without coalition support

The US followed up with an assassination drone strike against Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and PMF’s deputy commander, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, prompting Iraq to lodge complaints against the US at the UN over violations of its sovereignty.

The attack also led to further tensions with Iran, which carried out retaliatory missile strikes against two US bases in Iraq.

Washington, however, has recently sought to deter countries it has close ties to from seeking Russian-made defence systems, economic threats to Turkey and India are recent examples of this.

Meanwhile, Russian lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky has urged Iran to buy the S-400 missile systems amidst the current escalations with Washington.

Zhirinovsky noted that the S-400 and S-500 systems could “close the entire sky over Iran”. Adding, “Let our Navy be invited – no one will come to the shores of Iran.”

READ: Iran commander warns of ‘harsher revenge’, Iraq’s PMF vows retaliation against US