According to Reuters, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani traveled to Moscow this Wednesday to meet Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
This Wednesday, the Reuters News Agency reported that the Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani is set to travel to Moscow and attend a two-day business conference, where he will also meet Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Al-Sudani left Iraq Wednesday evening and is expected to have a meeting with Putin on Friday, October 11. In addition to talks about business and economic relations, as one Iraqi official told Reuters, the two are expected to discuss a wide range of other issues such as the war in Ukraine, the oil transit, and electricity imports from Russia to Iraq.
Before his trip to Russia, Al-Sudani hosted Igor Levitin, the assistant to the Russian President, and a delegation on October 3 in Baghdad, Iraq. During the meeting, the two sides discussed ways to extend bilateral relations. The Iraqi Prime Minister’s planned trip to Moscow was also discussed, as were initiatives to further bilateral collaboration in several areas.
The two countries have been lately on the path of extending cooperation as, for example, Haider Hanoun, the Head of the Federal Commission of Integrity (COI), announced earlier this week that a deal had been reached with Russia to fight corruption and recoup money that had been illegally transferred overseas.
Iraq-Russia relations after the Ukraine war
Since the Russia-Ukraine war broke out on Feb. 23 2021, Iraq has refrained from taking a firm position on the war. On Feb. 28 the same year, Iraq voted for an Arab League statement on Ukraine that did not assign responsibility to Russia. The Arab country also abstained from a U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) vote on March 2021 that condemned Russian aggression toward Ukraine.
Back then, Baghdad only expressed “regret” about the “deterioration of the situation and the escalating tensions between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.” Iraq justified its abstention by highlighting the risk of terrorists capitalizing on polarizations within the international community and noting its historical background, which included “sufferings resulting from the continuing wars against our people.”
This past April, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said that his country is willing to be part of the solution to end the Russia-Ukraine war. “In principle, it is difficult for us to support war. That’s why in principle, we always try to be part of the solution,” said Hussein, referring to Iraq’s experience with decades of war and conflict. “Baghdad is ready to mediate if asked to,” he added.
Likewise, Iraq’s Moqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist movement that won the most seats in the October 2021 Iraqi parliamentary elections, has been holding the same view on the war. Al-Sadr stated a few weeks after the conflict that war between Russia and Ukraine is “absolutely useless” and added that “I am still looking forward to the principle of dialogue between two Christian countries.”
Economically speaking, there are good reasons for Iraq to oppose the war between Moscow and Kiev. The war has already had serious adverse economic impacts on Iraq, even if rising oil prices may ameliorate this situation. Iraq imports 50% of its food supply and although it does not rely on wheat from Russia or Ukraine, rising global prices have a spillover impact. The idea was later confirmed by the Iraqi Trade Ministry who has attributed the rise in cooking oil prices to supply disruptions caused by the Ukraine war.