Erbil – The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Minister of Foreign Relations Falah Mustafa on Tuesday met the Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa, Mikhail Bogdanov, to discuss bilateral cooperation and the current situation in Iraq and Kurdistan.
“Minister Falah Mustafa thanked Deputy Foreign Minister Bogdanov for his warm welcome and conveyed the greetings of the President and the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region to the people and the government of the Russian Federation,” the KRG department of foreign relations said in a statement.
“Deputy Foreign Minister Bogdanov, likewise, conveyed his greetings to the President and the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region and expressed the support of the government of Russia to the Peshmerga forces in the fight against ISIS. The deputy foreign Minister also commended the efforts of the Kurdistan Region in sheltering and supporting the Syrian refugees and Iraqi displaced people,” the statement added.
The two officials discussed the role of Peshmerga in the fight against ISIS to liberate Mosul, Erbil-Baghdad ties, humanitarian challenges facing the KRG, and post-ISIS governance and stabilization.
The KRG delegation is on a three-days visit to Russia focusing on increasing bilateral ties, especially with regard to energy cooperation between Erbil and Moscow. Since August 2014, Gazprom Neft started drilling in Kurdistan and has reportedly increased its profile in the region.
Moreover, Russia started to supply the Kurdish Peshmerga with weapons since March 2016, in agreement with Baghdad.
“The purpose is to assist Iraqi Kurds in combating ISIS and this purpose has never been concealed. Many countries, including Turkey, are assisting Erbil in this,” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said last summer.
Speaking to ARA News, Timur Akhmetov, an independent Russian analyst on the Middle East, said the meeting is not anything new.
“Russia, you know, is so reluctant to deal with the KRG. Russian basic position is to deal with the Kurds only through Baghdad, so I don’t expect that this meeting will bring us anything,” he said.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News