MOSCOW, March 4 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will deliver attack helicopters and air-defense systems to Iraq before the summer, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said on Monday.
Delivery of the Russian arms will start as soon as financial matters are dealt with, he added.
“I believe the first arms deliveries from Russia to Iraq will start before the beginning of the summer at the latest,” he said in an interview with Golos Rossii Radio.
Concerning Iraq’s plans to buy Lochkeed Martin F-16 fighters from the United States, Zebari said Iraq “has no problems with the Americans on this deal.”
“Deliveries are due to begin in 2014,” he said.
In November, Iraq’s acting Defense Minister Sadun Al-Dulaymi denied reports that Bagdad was annulling a $4.2 billion arms deal with Russia over concerns about possible corruption.
Russia and Iraq had announced an agreement to deliver Russian Mi-28NE attack helicopters and Pantsyr mobile air-defense systems following October’s visit to Moscow by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, during which he met his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev.
An Iraqi government spokesman announced shortly afterwards that the deal was on hold pending a review. “When Maliki returned from his trip to Russia, he had some suspicions of corruption, so he decided to review the whole deal. There is an investigation going on, on this,” the spokesman told AFP.
At the time the arms deal was announced in October, the Russian press had hailed it as the country’s largest since 2006.
Under the deal, Moscow is to supply 30 Mil Mi-28NE night/all-weather capable attack helicopters, and 50 Pantsyr-S1 gun-missile short-range air defense systems.