ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday stood by his country’s deals with the Kurdistan Region, affirming their legitimacy, and reiterated Moscow’s fondness for the people of Kurdistan.
In a press conference, attended by Kurdistan 24’s Moscow Bureau Chief Khoshawi Mohammed, Putin mentioned Russia’s “very good relations” with the Kurds, sympathizing with the Kurdish people’s aspirations to “exercise their natural rights.”
In the lead up to the Sep. 25 referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region, Russia was one of the few countries not to oppose the vote outrightly.
In the aftermath of the referendum, Baghdad warned it would reclaim sovereignty over all territories in Iraq, raising concerns regarding deals the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had made, including the lucrative oil and gas deals with Russia.
Putin seemed to dismiss those concerns, stating he believed all Russian plans and projects in Kurdistan are “legal and promising,” emphasizing that Moscow’s relations with Erbil do not intend to create conflicts, but instead aim at developing ties with Iraq and all its components, including the Kurdistan Region.
“We appreciate their [Kurdish people] talent and aspiration to exercise their natural rights. We see and understand what is happening in Iraq, and we know the decisions taken at the referendum. We see that these decisions are being implemented in Iraqi Kurdistan and that is being done within the framework of the integral Iraqi state,” Putin told Kurdistan 24.
“Our plans regarding Iraq, including the region called Iraqi Kurdistan, are legal and promising and they are not aimed at interfering in conflicts or inciting any conflicts in Iraq. On the contrary, all our projects are aimed at promoting cooperation with Iraq, including Iraqi Kurdistan,” he stated, asserting they were “promising, interesting, and far-reaching projects” Putin hopes will be implemented.
Ties between Erbil and Moscow have strengthened over the past few years, notably after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) signed an agreement with Russia’s state oil company, Rosneft, in October 2017.
Last month, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani visited Moscow on an official invitation where he met with President Putin to discuss bilateral relations.
Editing by Nadia Riva and Karzan Sulaivany