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Iraq lands major weapons deal with Russia

Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:20 AM

MOSCOW, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- An Iraqi deal for military attack helicopters and air-defense systems from Russia suggests Baghdad is trying to break away from Washington, an analyst said.

Russia, under the terms of a $4.2 billion arms deal signed earlier this year, will supply Iraq with 30 Mi-28NE attack helicopters and 50 short-range missile defense systems, state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.

The contracts are reportedly the largest military deals signed between Moscow and Baghdad in more than six years.

Ruslan Pukhov, an industry analyst at the Russian Center for Analysis of Strategy and Technology, told the news agency the deal suggested ties between Iraq and the United States were diminishing.

"It's clear that America's influence on Iraq has been excessive," he was quoted as saying. "The Shiite government of this country (Iraq) is starting to conduct itself more independently of Washington, and more looking toward Iran."

U.S. military forces ended their mission in Iraq in December.

BAE Systems announced Monday it received a U.S. Foreign Military Sales contract worth $31.8 million to build heavy equipment recovery vehicles for the Iraqi army.

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