Iraq's Defense Ministry announced Thursday that increased "cooperation and coordination" is being discussed with Moscow amid worsened relations with Washington, which even last month included President Trump issuing brazen threats of "very big" sanctions on Baghdad if American troops are kicked out of the country.
This week Iraqi army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Othman Al-Ghanimi and Russian Ambassador Maksim Maksimov met to discuss future military cooperation. Crucially, Gen. Ghanimi highlighted Russia's successful anti-ISIS operations over the past years, especially in Syria where the Russian military has supported Assad since being invited there in 2015.
On Russia's role in Iraq, Ghanimi said Moscow had provided "our armed forces with advanced and effective equipment and weapons that had a major role in resolving many battles," according to the ministry statement.
It's been long rumored that since late summer Baghdad and Moscow have been in talks to deliver either Russia's advanced S-400 or S-300 anti-air missile defense systems - a prospect which US officials have condemned.
Like other areas of the Middle East, as US adventurism heightens pressure for a US withdrawal, Russia appears to be seizing the opportunity to move in.