Russian Policy in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region


On Thursday, April 13th, 2023, the Rudaw Research Center hosted an insightful seminar featuring the distinguished Russian Consul General in the Kurdistan Region, Maxim Rubin. The seminar, titled "Russian Policy in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region," explored the complex dynamics and multifaceted aspects of Russia's foreign policy initiatives in the region.

In the energy sector, major Russian conglomerates, such as Rosneft and Gazprom, have invested approximately $5 billion in the Kurdistan Region. The discussion highlighted the unwavering commitment of Russian companies to maintain their operations in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, despite American sanctions and challenging working conditions. Regarding the rulings of the Federal Court and the International Court of Arbitration for Commerce (ICC) related to the oil industry in the Kurdistan Region, it was noted that Russian oil companies continue their efforts in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region while awaiting instructions from Moscow. Oil exports from the Kurdistan Region depend on Turkey's decision, with Russian companies anticipating Ankara's resolution on the issue.

Another key difference between Russian oil companies' operations in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region is the nature of contractual agreements. Service contracts have been signed with Iraq, while production-sharing agreements have been established in the Kurdistan Region, which are currently under review between Erbil and Baghdad as a new agreement. Russian investment in the gas sector for the Kurdistan Regional Government and its exports were also discussed, confirming that gas supplied by the Kurdistan Regional Government would not replace Russian gas. Russian companies have expressed their readiness to invest in this sector, despite the fact that investing in natural gas requires more significant capital and involves a longer timeframe.

The seminar emphasized the importance of strengthening cultural relations and the preparations for the opening of the Russian Language Center in the Kurdistan Region. Concerning the historical ties between Russia and the Kurdistan Region, the seminar explored the ancient history of these relations. Barzani's departure to the Soviet Union and Russia's desire to establish a consulate in the Kurdistan Region were seen as indicators of stronger relations. It was also acknowledged that, although differing viewpoints may exist regarding Russia's perspective on global issues in the Kurdistan Region, the strength of these relations has consistently been considered.

The event focused on the complexities of Russian-Iraqi relations, stressing Iraq's role as a crucial ally of Russia. Despite Russia's opposition to the American invasion of Iraq, Moscow accepted the situation and engaged with it accordingly. Russia has since established its embassy in Baghdad, despite Iraq's loss of sovereignty and security. In terms of financial and commercial cooperation between Russia and Iraq, it was noted that Russia was among the countries that forgave Iraq's debts and actively participated in reconstruction efforts. Additionally, Russia has been one of the main countries supporting Iraq in its fight against ISIS. The military and energy coordination between Russia and Iraq demonstrates their ongoing collaboration. Esteemed companies like Lukoil have invested up to $11 billion in southern Iraq, specifically in the Basra region.

The seminar offered a comprehensive analysis of the relations between Russia, the Kurdistan Region, Iraq, the war in Ukraine, and Russia's new strategic direction in foreign policy toward the West and the subsequent implications for the region.


Maxim Rubin - Russian Consul in the Kurdistan Region

Hoshyar Siwaili - Head of the Foreign Relations Office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party

Khalil Ibrahim - Head of the Political Council of the Kurdistan Islamic Union

Dr. Muhammad Ihsan - University Professor

Dr. Muhammad Sharif - Professor, University of Kurdistan

Dr. Ashna Baban - University Professor

Mahmoud Baban - Researcher at Rudaw Research Center

Imad Farhadi - Head of the Office of Diplomatic Envoys in the Relations Office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan

Dr. Saman Sorani - Consultant in the Office of Foreign Relations of the Kurdistan Region

Arshad Arif - International Relations Expert

Ali Zallo – journalist

Ali Kurdistani - Political Analyst

Dr. Mohamed Aziz - Political Activist

Ziryan Rojhelati - Rudaw Research Center Director

Mahmood Baban - Research Fellow, RRC


April - 2023
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