Iraqi PM says Russian President's 'wise leadership' helped to beat challenges

Mohammed Shia Al Sudani is in a two-day official visit to Moscow to boost relations and co-operation

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani speaks as Russian President Vladimir Putin listens at the 2023 Russian Energy Week forum in Moscow on October 11.  Kremlin.
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Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani on Wednesday praised the “wise leadership” of President Vladimir Putin for helping Russia overcome the challenges it faced.

Mr Al Sudani started an official two-day visit to Moscow on Tuesday to discuss relations and co-operation in various fields, mainly the economy and energy.

“I’d like to commend the wise leadership in facing the challenges and turning them into opportunities for success and development,” he told Mr Putin at a Russian Energy Week forum.

“I wish you prosperity, development and continuous success."

Mr Putin reacted with a smile.

Moscow's invasion of Ukraine that began in late February 2022 has led to political reactions, including economic sanctions imposed on Russia and soaring global food and energy prices.

Since then, Iraq has been calling for peace between Russia and Ukraine.

During his meeting with Mr Putin on Tuesday, Mr Al Sudani repeated his government's call for dialogue to end the war.

“Iraq supports stability everywhere, including the crisis with Ukraine,” he said during the meeting.

“We suffered from wars and sanctions and our constant stance is to support and adopt dialogue to find peaceful solutions to stop these conflicts,” Mr Al Sudani said.

This conflict, he said, left “dangerous consequences on the humanitarian and economic levels”.

Iraq and Russia have had bilateral relations for decades.

Co-operation between Baghdad and Moscow is mainly in the fields of energy, military and security.

Baghdad hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in February, when he led a delegation for representatives of Russian companies.

Both sides then discussed food security and ways for Baghdad to handle payments to Russia in light of global sanctions imposed on Moscow after it attacked Ukraine.

Russian investments in Iraq are believed to be worth more than $13 billion, mostly in the oil industry.

Russia's biggest oil company, Rosneft, has been making deals with the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq since at least 2017, pumping billions of dollars into oil production and shipping infrastructure.

Russia's Lukoil now produces about 480,000 barrels per day of oil at Iraq's southern West Qurna 2 field, while its Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of the gas giant Gazprom, is involved in the Badra project in eastern Iraq and two fields in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Baghdad is also co-ordinating with Moscow in the fight against ISIS.

In 2014, Iraq, Russia, Iran and Syria set up a security co-ordination committee a few months after the US established an international coalition in the war against the extremist group.

When the UN General Assembly adopted a US-led resolution to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Iraq abstained, along with China, Iran, India, Pakistan, Armenia and 16 African countries.

The resolution was adopted with the support of 141 countries out of 193.

Opec+ cuts

Mr Al Sudani touched on co-ordination among the Opec+ group of oil-producing states that recently decided to stick to its current output policy as oil prices continue to rise, driven by tighter supplies and improving demand prospects.

"In order to achieve stability in the energy market, we are in dire need to joint co-ordination," he said.

"We draw attention to the necessity of the balance between supply and demand to prevent economic collapses and their political and social repercussions and their impact on their regional stability, as well as peace, security and the international stability."

Mr Putin said that Opec+ co-ordination would continue in order to ensure predictability on the oil market and indicated strongly that a deal to constrain supply to world markets was here to stay.

"I am sure that the co-ordination of the Opec+ partners' actions will continue," he told the forum.

"This is important for the predictability of the oil market, and ultimately for the well-being of all mankind."

Mr Putin said that Opec+ members would "fulfil their commitments in full and successfully cope with all challenges".

Asked if the Opec+ agreement to cut supply would be extended, he said: "Most likely. We need to consult with colleagues. Our decisions are made by consensus.

"Today it looks like we will continue our co-operation."

Opec+, which groups the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia, pumps about 40 per cent of the world's crude. It has an agreement to limit supplies until the end of 2024.

Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world's top two oil exporters, on Wednesday discussed the situation on the market and prices amid the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas, said Putin's top oil official, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak.

Updated: October 12, 2023, 5:08 AM