Russian President Vladimir Putin in his Kremlin office. File photo: Kremlin
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Russia prefers to see the "territorial integrity" of Iraq remain, the Kremlin announced on Wednesday, according to Russian state media.
Russia's presidential Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that he would not like to comment on whether the results of the vote would be recognized, according to Sputnik News.
"Russia’s position is the one in favor of territorial integrity of regional states," Peskov told reporters.
The Kurdistan Region is scheduled to hold an independence referendum on Monday. Two days ago, Iraq's Supreme Court ruled to suspend the Kurdish referendum on Monday until it makes a final ruling on the case at the request of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
The Kurdistan Region's foreign office then told The Wall Street Journal that "We don’t have the feeling that there is a judiciary system in this country that’s functioning in order to protect law, order and also rights."
Kurdistan emphasizes that the Iraqi constitution allows Erbil to end the “free union” between the two governments because Baghdad has violated at least 55 articles of the Iraqi constitution, including cutting the regional government’s share of the Iraqi budget since early 2014, lack of defense budget for the Kurdish Peshmerga, and Article 140 that concerns the fate of the Kurdistani or disputed areas such as the oil-rich Kirkuk province.
The Russian energy firm Rosneft and the Kurdistan Regional Government's Ministry of Natural Resources inked a deal on Monday to extend a natural gas pipeline from the Region into Turkey.
KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan said the deal was in no way related to the referendum.
The investments would amount to more than $1 billion, a Rosneft spoksperson confirmed to Rudaw. The pipeline is expected to be capable of carrying 30 billion cubic-meters (bcm) of gas from the Kurdistan Region.
Kurdish leaders previously have asked nations who can't back the referendum to not oppose it. They rejected an undisclosed deal proposed by the United Nations, United Kingdom, and United States last week because it wasn't a better alternative than the independence referendum.
Abadi called Russia's stance on the Kurdistan Region's independence referendum "weak."
Kurdish President Masoud Barzani on Tuesday gave Baghdad three days to reach an agreement with Erbil, backed by the international community, providing an alternative to the referendum that will eventually lead to “independence.”
Abadi responded on Wednesday, stating that Iraq has refused to accept a Kurdish independence referendum “now or in the future” as it contradicts the Iraqi constitution, and will divide and weaken the Iraqi state.