NEWSBLOG: Russian Journalist Reports on Putin’s Meeting with Iraq’s Al-Maliki; Wing-span of 4.5 Billion Dollars — Meeting between Russian President and Iraqi Prime Minister Opened Deal to Supply Aircraft

Map of Iraq

“Russian Journalist Reports on Putin’s Meeting with Iraq’s Al-Maliki” – “Wing-span of 4.5 Billion Dollars — Meeting between Russian President and Iraqi Prime Minister Opened Deal to Supply Aircraft” – Kommersant – Andrey Kolesnikov – October 11, 2012 – no link available to English-language version

Andrey Kolesnikov writes about a dinner meeting between Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamil Mohammed Hasan al-Maliki and Russian President Vladimir Putin confirming a $4.5 billion combat aircraft deal.

Various business leaders also were in attendance:

Among those noticed among the dinner participants were: Sergey Chemezov, head of Rostekhnologii; Vagit Alekperov, the president of LUKOIL (his company is developing the West Qurna-2 oilfield); and Aleksandr Dyukov, the head of Gazprom Neft. In response to journalists’ questions about projects in Kurdistan, Dyukov benevolently questioned them about which projects they were talking about and whether journalists knew the history of Iraq, which he was obviously ready to go into the details about with any interested party. In actual fact, they were talking about the development of the Badra field with estimated reserves of three billion barrels of oil. However, the field must first be de-mined (according to the most optimistic forecasts, 60% of the area, on which it is planned to drill 11 boreholes, has been cleared so far).

Apparently the dinner conversation turned to cranes and their attempted relocation:

Thus, after the flock of six cranes accompanied by the solemn sounds of the motorized hang glider, which Siberian Cranes have been used to since they were in the egg, flapped their wings and headed for the Belozerskiy nature reserve in Chelyabinsk Oblast. Many hours passed. Eight hundred kilometres of the country drifted past under the cranes’ wings.

The Siberian cranes, led by the hang glider, eventually landed on an island, where gray cranes flying in the same direction were already taking a short break. They left the Siberian cranes on their own with them in the hope that the white cranes would join the gray ones and continue on their way to Africa.

But then the irredeemable happened: only one Siberian crane hooked up with the flock of gray cranes. The rest were quite happy at the Belozerskiy nature reserve (although the ornithologists did not think so, and they took them home to the location near Ryazan where they had in fact hatched from their eggs).

And Nils continued his journey with the wild geese and only sat down to rest with them all 500 kilometres later, now in Kazakhstan.

There, in line with the laws [of] the most dramatic of epics, they were attacked by wild dogs. The wild geese knew how to behave in such a situation and left, but Nils stayed and would have undoubtedly accepted the unequal battle and the story would have ended there, and all that would have remained would have been for it to ring out throughout the ages, if it had not been for the locals, who were obviously as wild as the dogs — otherwise how would they have managed to repel the packs of hungry dogs from Nils?

However, the Kazakhs proved to be good and joyous people, they sheltered Nils in their homes, and when the chairman of the Kazakh forestry industry learnt about this heartrending goose story, Nils was entrusted into his good hands. And the latter realized that this might not just be a Siberian crane, but the very Siberian crane who Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin taught to fly on the eve of his sixtieth birthday.

An enquiry and a photograph taken of the Siberian crane by mobile phone were sent to Russian ornithologists in Yamal. The Russian ornithologists immediately recognized it as one of their own. Some people may ask: how? They all look the same. My answer: how do Mongols recognize one another?

By six o’clock yesterday Nils was in the apartment of the deputy chairman of Kazakhstan’s Forestry Committee (i.e. his status had been somewhat reduced), and by tomorrow Nils should be returning to his historic homeland near Ryazan.

Back on the subject of trade, Putin apparently pushed for renewed trade between Iraq and Russia to include arms, due to Iraqi familiarity with Russian arms:

Vladimir Putin, after saying a few general words after these negotiations about the need to increase trade turnover, which fell dramatically in 2003 after the war started in Iraq, noted that trade might take off, including through military contracts. He did not specify whether they had already been signed (talks on this had started the day before but the information had not been confirmed officially) or would be signed in the near future, but he did state:

“Iraqi experts are very familiar with Russian weapons systems, and cooperation in this sphere will enable not only the level of trade to be increased, but also the level of trust between the two states (if not the three, including America — AK ).

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The Iraqi prime minister said that he had agreed to draw up a road map for all the areas of cooperation in the fuel and energy complex, construction, and the teaching of students — and he did not say a word about military cooperation. This could mean that the deal really had in actual fact been closed, and so there was no reason to talk about it.

* * *

However, I learnt from other people who took part in the negotiations that it primarily concerns aircraft and that at the dinner the Iraqi prime minister had confirmed his willingness to fulfil the contract.

[no link available to English-language version of original article]