Russia Sends Fighter Jets to Aid Iraq

Dmitry Terekhov

Russia Sends Fighter Jets to Aid Iraq

The United States’ slow delivery of military aid has Iraq worried and searching for other alternatives. Russia answered the call Monday, sending five Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets to help the Iraqi government. Russia plans to send a total of 12 jets to aid President Nouri al-Maliki against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (isis). Russian pilots are expected to stay in Iraq as long as it takes to train pilots.

Maliki noted that if he had received air cover sooner, “we would have averted what had happened,” referring to the rapid advance of isis through many of Iraq’s northern cities.

“If Russian pilots begin flying attack missions in Iraq, Moscow will be doing the job Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki first asked of the United States,” Josh Rogin wrote for The Daily Beast.

The U.S. condoned Iraq’s dealing with Russia. “We don’t oppose legal Iraqi efforts to meet their urgent military requirements,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Russia stepping into space vacated by the U.S. is becoming common. It was just last August that Bashar Assad crossed the “red line” set by U.S. President Barack Obama by using chemical weapons. America did nothing, giving Russia the opportunity to expand its influence.

The second batch of Russian Sukhoi jets arrived in Baghdad on July 1.

The White House’s only military action in Iraq so far has been to send troops to defend the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, hardly the support Iraqis hoped for. The U.S. is also sending Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter jets, but, at the earliest, the arrival date will not be until this fall.

Russia sees America’s resolve to avoid engaging in missions abroad. “The Russian move was at least an implicit rebuke to the United States which the Iraqis believe has been too slow to supply American F-16s and attack helicopters …,” New York Times columnist Rod Nordland said. One headline on Yahoo News reads “Thumbing Its Nose at U.S., Russia Sends Military Experts to Iraq.”

The Trumpet has monitored this trend closely over the past year: America is on its way out of the Middle East, and now it’s time to see who will fill the vacuum. Russia hasn’t been hesitant to step up. To understand how significant Russia’s recent power grab is, read “Is Vladimir Putin the Prophesied ‘Prince of Rosh’?