The then Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [L] meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in October, 2012. Maliki negotiated an arms deal that was then put on hold amid a corruption and bribery scandal. Photo: Kremlin
MOSCOW, Russian Federation – Iraqi Vice President and Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has left Baghdad for Moscow Sunday on an official visit to Russia where he is scheduled to meet with President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
Maliki's office announced in a statement that the Iraqi politician is on an official visit, also accompanied by a “high level delegation” that includes a number of Iraqi members of parliament and advisors.
The announcement stated that he will be meeting several Russian officials without giving any details about their titles.
Maliki will discuss “bilateral relations, strengthening the security and economic relations and the fight against terrorism,” with the Russian officials, the statement read.
Maliki is to hold meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and head of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko on Monday, Rudaw’s Khalid Hussein in Moscow reported.
According to the agenda of the meeting published by the Kremlin, Maliki is to meet with President Putin on Tuesday in Saint Petersburg.
Maliki has told the Russian Sputnik news agency that he will primarily discuss the supply of Russian arms to the Iraqi security forces with Russian officials.
Iraq and Russia have a $4.2 billion outstanding arms deal that was signed by the then PM Maliki on a visit to Moscow in 2012.
The deal was put on hold amid a corruption and bribery scandal involving senior Iraqi defense officials.
However, Russia Today reported in 2014 that Baghdad and Moscow have agreed to resume the deal, through which Russia would supply Iraq with 48 Pantsir-S1 short-to-medium-range air defense systems and 28 Mil Mi-28NE strike helicopters.
Sputnik also quoted Maliki as saying that the US should not take credit for the liberation of Mosul, though it provided air support and that the former US administration of Barack Obama is responsible for the rise of ISIS in Iraq. He also stated that without the majority-Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary forces, Baghdad would have fallen into ISIS’ hands. He continued to say that the Kurdish Peshmerga did not play a main role in the fight against ISIS and that the Iraqi security forces have suffered about 20,000 casualties, killed or injured, in their nine-month anti-ISIS offensive in Mosul.