Putin Gains Ground as U.S. Retreats

Putin Gains Ground as U.S. Retreats

Russia this week signed a contract to export $4.2 billion of weapons to Iraq — which is of special interest for two reasons.

First, it is the largest arms-export deal since Putin became the effective ruler of Russia in 1999. Second, it marks Russia’s return as a top supplier of weapons to Iraq — a position lost in 2003 with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, after Putin had opposed the liberation of Iraq and tried to help Saddam cling to power.

Nor is Russia’s dramatic return to Iraq confined to the arms bazaar. Russian energy companies are also making a comeback, seeking a share of Iraq’s massive oil reserves while US companies play reluctant debutante.

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