Russian Ambassador to Baghdad Maksim Maksimov has expressed the belief that foreign companies involved in oil and gas projects in Iraq are at serious risk of having their operations suspended due to the tensions in the country.
Maksimov made this known in an interview with Sputnik.
“There are currently serious risks for a partial or complete suspension of the activities of major foreign economic operators involved in the implementation of large-scale projects for the exploration, development, and production of hydrocarbons in key oil and gas fields of Iraq as general contractors or subcontractors,” Maksimov said.
Maksimov noted that the Russian embassy held regular meetings on security issues with representatives of Lukoil, Gazprom Neft, Bashneft, and other Russian companies working in Iraq.
“We comprehensively monitor the situation around our facilities and send relevant recommendations to companies, which are updated based on the changing situation … Of course, if there is a real threat to the safety of employees of Russian companies and contractors.
“Our (economic) operators have their own evacuation plans worked out in advance and coordinated with the embassy and local agencies.
“At the same time, I hope we will not face crisis scenarios,” the ambassador said.
When asked to comment on reports about Iraq’s plans to buy Russia’s S-400 air defense systems, the ambassador said that Moscow had not yet received an official request from Baghdad.
“The (Iraqi) interest in Russian air defense systems, including S-400, has increased.
“However, it is too early to talk about anything specifically.
“If some requests come from the Iraqi side, we will study them,” the diplomat said.
In January, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing Iraqi parliament members, that the country had already started consultations with Russia on the possible purchase of S-400s.
The U.S. has threatened to sanction Baghdad if it went through with the acquisition.
Iraq has been facing nationwide anti-government protests since October, with protesters demanding an end to corruption, improved living standards, and the government’s resignation.
Recently appointed Prime Minister Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi is currently working on forming the new government, which will face the task of carrying out reforms to stabilise the situation in the country. (Sputnik/NAN)