Daily Israel Report

Russian Jets Poised to Fight ISIS in Iraq

Vladimir Putin delivers first five of 12 promised Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets and pilots to Iraqi government.
By Arutz Sheva
First Publish: 7/1/2014, 1:14 PM

ISIS in Mosul, Iraq
ISIS in Mosul, Iraq
Reuters

While the Obama administration struggles to speed up delivery of U.S. military assistance to the government of Iraq, Vladimir Putin has already delivered not only fighter jets but also the pilots needed to fly them, diplomatic sources told The Daily Beast.

On Monday, Russian television reported the arrival of the first five of 12 promised Sukhoi Su-25 combat fighter jets to the Iraqi government, saying it had also sent “trainers” to help the Iraqis use them. Gen. Anwar Hama Ameen, the commander of the Iraqi Air Force, told the New York Times the fighter jets would enter the battle against ISIS within a few days, after which the Russian trainers would leave Iraq. He claimed Iraq had plenty of pilots with “long experience” flying the Su-25.

Diplomatic sources told The Daily Beast that Russian pilots will fly the planes due to a lack of Iraqi pilots with the proper training. The Su-25 planes were used in the Iraq-Iran war but have not been employed in Iraq since at least 2002, when Iraq’s military was controlled by Saddam Hussein.

The Russian assistance to Iraq is not a strategic decision by Moscow to commit to a long-term security relationship with Iraq, the sources said, but rather a limited measure to address the ISIS crisis. It’s also a convenient way to draw a public distinction between Moscow and Washington, whose direct military assistance to Iraq has been minimal and slow.

“This is very opportunistic and it opens up a lot of questions about that relationship, where it’s going, and how Russia is aligning itself in Iraq,” a senior congressional aide told The Daily Beast on Monday. “It’s definitely something we should be concerned about but it’s not panic time yet.”

Putin delivers first 5 of 12 promised Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets and pilots to Iraqi government.

While the Obama administration struggles to speed up delivery of U.S. military assistance to the government of Iraq, Vladimir Putin has already delivered not only fighter jets but also the pilots needed to fly them, diplomatic sources told The Daily Beast.

On Monday, Russian television reproted the arrival of the first five of 12 promised Sukhoi Su-25 combat fighter jets to the Iraqi government, saying it had also sent “trainers” to help the Iraqis use them. Gen. Anwar Hama Ameen, the commander of the Iraqi Air Force, told the New York Times the fighter jets would enter the battle against ISIS within a few days, after which the Russian trainers would leave Iraq. He claimed Iraq had plenty of pilots with “long experience” flying the Su-25.

Diplomatic sources told The Daily Beast that Russian pilots will fly the planes due to a lack of Iraqi pilots with the proper training. The Su-25 planes were used in the Iraq-Iran war but have not been employed in Iraq since at least 2002, when Iraq’s military was controlled by Saddam Hussein.

The Russian assistance to Iraq is not a strategic decision by Moscow to commit to a long-term security relationship with Iraq, the sources said, but rather a limited measure to address the ISIS crisis. It’s also a convenient way to draw a public distinction between Moscow and Washington, whose direct military assistance to Iraq has been minimal and slow.

“This is very opportunistic and it opens up a lot of questions about that relationship, where it’s going, and how Russia is aligning itself in Iraq,” a senior congressional aide told The Daily Beast on Monday. “It’s definitely something we should be concerned about but it’s not panic time yet.”