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Russia may soon resume arms supplies to the Iraqi army
Russia may soon resume arms supplies to the Iraqi army (it supplied weapons from the 1970s to the 1990s). Colonel General Yuri Baluyevsky, the chief of Russia's General Staff, and US General James Jones, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, have agreed on this. The Russian side will train Iraqi servicemen in using the equipment supplied, Gen. Baluyevsky assured his colleague. Arms supplies will be resumed if the Iraqi government asks Russia to give it military-technological assistance, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov confirmed yesterday. Heavy armored equipment, infantry combat vehicles, armored personnel carriers, small-arms, mortars and guns, as well as ammunition of various caliber will probably be supplied to the Iraqi army, Alexander Shavarin, an expert of the Strategic Research Center, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. The expert believes the fact that there are many Soviet-made weapons in Iraq and the Iraqis know them well is one reason behind Moscow's decision: "Virtually all of the country's officers' corps has been trained in using Soviet-made weapons." Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, a former head of the Russian Defense Ministry's department of international military cooperation, believes that about 200 Russian instructors may be dispatched to Iraq at the first stage. "This is how the arms supply mission in Syria and Egypt began," Gen. Ivashov stated. Andrew Kuchins, the director of the Moscow Carnegie Center, believes that the very fact that Russia is prepared to go to Iraq in a manner practically mimicking the North Atlantic alliance (NATO instructors are training Iraqi servicemen) will be welcomed by the Bush administration. According to leaks from Washington, the newspaper writes, Russia has agreed to be involved in the Iraqi campaign in exchange for America recognizing the former Soviet Union as a zone of Russia's vital interests. The scheme of future arms supplies to Iraq has not yet been devised,though. Nor has it been coordinated between key departments
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