Libmonster ID: U.S.-1385
Author(s) of the publication: A. M. VASILIEV


Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Keywords: Russian-Iraqi, Russian-Turkish relations, US invasion of Iraq, Russia in the Middle East at the beginning of the XXI century

"With the changes that have taken place in the system of modern international relations, ideological aspects are fading into the background... As far as politics is concerned, Russia has been and still is an important participant in the Middle East peace process and, given its stability, friendly relations with the Arab world, as well as Russia's progressive relations with Israel, it can make a real contribution to the stabilization of the situation in the region."

Amr Moussa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, then Secretary-General of the League of Arab States

In the first decade of the twenty-first century, contradictory trends in world development were becoming more pronounced, which could not but affect Russia's policy in the Middle East and North Africa.

On the one hand, there was a process of globalization, the socio-economic structure of the entire world was changing on the basis of information technologies, the role of mass media and the Internet was increasing, and cross-border movement of capital, goods, and people was becoming increasingly widespread. The countries of the Pacific Ocean and Asia were rapidly rising, and a polycentric world system was being created. Russia, which strengthened its statehood and economy after the crisis of the 1990s, continued its course towards entering this world, but as one of its centers, demanding that its national priorities and national security tasks be taken into account.

On the other hand, the United States sought to consolidate its leadership, in other words, its dominance in the world, relying on military, financial, economic, informational, and innovative superiority. This was reflected in the expansion of NATO, in attempts to solve emerging crises by force. For a time, the theory and practice of neoconservatism prevailed in the US leadership. The Neocons openly declared the" necessity "of American leadership, the" superiority "of American social and political systems, and the" duty " of the entire world to follow American models. They called for the export of American values, including democracy, to all countries of the world, if necessary - by force.

It is interesting to note that among the founding fathers of neoconservatism, there were also former Trotskyists who forged their previous beliefs about the export of the socialist revolution into messianic appeals to export bourgeois values to the United States by all means, including military ones.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 made it possible to transform their ideological beliefs into the political practice of the American administration, including in the Middle East. Prominent neoconservatives Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Pearl, and several others held key positions in the Bush administration.

"...The United States assumed the mission of independently determining which State posed a threat to international security, and without a decision of the UN Security Council, and even using force alone and preemptively against such a State,

The research was carried out within the framework of the HSE Basic Research Program in 2016 with the support of the Russian Science Foundation project " Russian Policy in the Middle East: Prospects and Limits of Cooperation with the countries of the region "(N 14 - 18 - 03615).

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- wrote E. Primakov. "This doctrine was developed by American neoconservatives." 1

Some warming of relations between the Russian Federation and the United States and the willingness of the Russian Federation to cooperate in the fight against international terrorism, especially after September 11, 2001, led to only limited results. There was an exchange of information through the special services. Russia has supported the US military campaign in Afghanistan. Moreover, Kabul itself was taken by the troops of the Northern Alliance, which received real military assistance from Russia and Iran. Through Russia, the United States began to supply cargo for its troops in Afghanistan. But it didn't go any further. As before, Washington understood the word "cooperation" as something like this: "We know better than anyone what to do and how to do it. Your job is to follow us. Better - without asking questions. Then there will be constant cooperation, and even an alliance. Then you will behave in accordance with the highest standards of democracy and morality."

Ignoring the UN Security Council, the US invaded and occupied Iraq under false pretenses in 2003. Having found no weapons of mass destruction there, the US administration began to argue that the task of the war and occupation was different - to establish democracy in the country and spread the experience of this "young democracy" to the entire region.

As far as the Middle East and North Africa were concerned, by the end of 2003 the "Greater Middle East" program of George W. Bush was announced, and then the slightly modified "New Middle East" program of then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was announced. Their essence was regime change, the introduction of democratic principles on the American model.

It was clear that a region dominated by autocratic, repressive, and often gerontocratic regimes, where human rights were not respected, corruption corroded social, political, and economic structures, the masses were in poverty, and the intellectual elite demanded change-this region really needed reform. But which ones? By what methods? In what time frame? By whose hands? The first attempts to apply the principles of Western democracy - free democratic elections in the Palestinian Authority-led to the victory of Hamas, i.e. an extremist organization that the United States declared a terrorist organization.

Soon after the occupation, Iraq became ungovernable, plunging into civil war, and the American military triumph turned into a virtual defeat. President Bush was forced to remove the "Neocons" from the administration and try to find a way out of the Iraq quagmire. But only Obama, who succeeded him as president, succeeded him - and then not completely.

President Obama's famous speech in Cairo in 2009 about the need for the United States to build cooperation with the Muslim world, respect its values, and achieve a Middle East settlement through a compromise between Israelis and Palestinians - all this was regarded by most as a propaganda declaration. But in reality, it meant a shift away from the ideology of neoconservatism to greater realism and preceded the abandonment of the use of American ground troops in crisis situations, as well as the withdrawal of occupation forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the beginning of the first decade of the XXI century. Russia tried to avoid even a verbal confrontation with the United States, and tried to establish a dialogue with Washington and with NATO in general. But even some of Russia's actions to protect its interests, including in the Middle East, on a non-confrontational, simply competitive basis, caused growing irritation in Washington and some Western capitals, adding poison to Western media coverage of Russian politics and Russia in general.

Moreover, the expansion of NATO and its approach to the borders of Russia continued, attempts to draw Ukraine into NATO and use "soft power" to turn the majority of Ukrainians into Russophobes. Plans to build a missile defense system were perceived in Moscow as an open attempt to disarm the country's military-strategic potential.

Russia's disagreement with US policy was perceived in Washington almost as a return to the Cold War. In 2006, on the eve of the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, attention was drawn to the ultimatum speech of US Vice President Dick Cheney in Vilnius: Russia must "either return to democracy", i.e. disarm and follow the course indicated by the United States, or "become an enemy"2. In Moscow, in response to this attack, they showed restraint.

But a year later, the stronger voice of Russia was heard in President Vladimir Putin's Munich speech, where things were honestly called by their proper names, and double standards were double standards. At the same time, his speech nevertheless expressed Russia's readiness for the widest possible cooperation with the West, if the West shows enough political will to do so.3 It is important to note that after this speech, Vladimir Putin flew to the Middle East, where he visited, in particular, Saudi Arabia.

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Taking into account these international realities, we will try to give an overview of the relations of the Russian Federation with the countries of the region in the zero and early tenth years of the XXI century, i.e. on the eve of the socio-political upheavals of the Arab world, called the "Arab Spring "or"Arab Fitna (revolt)".


From Moscow's point of view, by conducting military operations against Iraq in the 1990s and early 2000s, the United States deliberately ignored the possibility of a political solution and aggravated the crisis. Moreover, the US-British bombing of Iraq undermined the international security system, setting dangerous precedents. Russian opinion and Moscow's diplomatic efforts were simply ignored, adding bitterness to the difficult relationship with the United States.

In May 1999, Russia, China and France submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council that would replace UNSCOM (the UN Special Commission for the Disarmament of Iraq) with a new Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to facilitate a compromise with Iraq. The Commission was established, but Saddam Hussein refused to accept its representatives. Then he began to delay the admission of UN inspectors to the country, piling up obstacles to their activities and provoking the United States and Britain to launch military strikes. It's hard to say what he was hoping for.

Russia, which has just experienced a severe economic crisis, did not want to enter into a confrontation with the United States and its allies, even at the level of rhetoric, but still tried to prevent the US invasion of Iraq. Ivanov, who retained his post under the new president, continued Russia's previous course in the Iraq crisis, but perhaps acted more cautiously, given the country's weakness. Russian diplomacy has consistently insisted that Iraq cooperate with UNMOVIC.4

It was also about serious economic interests. Iraq promised to start paying part of its multibillion-dollar debts to Russia only after the lifting of sanctions. Russia sought to get a good share of the pie in the richest oil fields, and already in the preliminary plan concluded relevant agreements.

Russia accounted for about 40% of Iraq's oil exports in the late 1990s. Oil was then resold. However, a significant part of this income did not go to the Russian treasury, but settled in offshore companies. But there was no doubt in Moscow that the United States was plotting to draw Iraq into its orbit, overthrow Saddam Hussein, and establish control over the country and its oil.

An intensive exchange of visits and delegations continued between Iraq and Russia, including at the parliamentary level. Of course, Russia's failure to achieve the lifting of sanctions caused discontent in Baghdad, so major economic projects, like paying off debts, were tied up for the period "after the lifting of sanctions".

In February 2001, the United States and Britain again launched airstrikes on Iraqi radars and air defense systems. At this time, voices began to be heard in the Duma, demanding to unilaterally refuse to participate in the sanctions. But the weakened country was not ready for decisive action and confrontation with the United States, it had to put up with political and economic realities. Bush was preparing for the 2004 presidential election and needed a resounding military success. Iraq was the most suitable target.5 The American leadership kept talking about Iraq's alleged accumulation of chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons and their threat to its neighbors and American interests in the region, about Iraq's ties with Al-Qaeda, and therefore about possible complicity in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

On November 26, 2001, President Bush issued a public ultimatum warning to Saddam Hussein that he must allow all UN inspectors to return to the country or "pay the consequences"6. By this point, it seemed that the war in Afghanistan was over, and the United States had a free hand for a new campaign.

Russian officials, through diplomatic channels and official propaganda, have consistently stressed that there is no evidence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, of Iraq's links to al-Qaeda, or of Saddam Hussein's complicity in terrorist actions against the United States.

In his message to Congress on January 29, 2002, Bush repeated old threats against Iraq and indirectly against those who support it. It was clear that Saddam Hussein had to give in. The prospect of a second Gulf War was emerging, which would deal a new blow to Russian interests. But Russia had neither the strength nor the ability to stop the unilateral US invasion of Iraq.7 The case was limited to verbal comments and suggestions.

On July 16, 2002, Russia condemned the new US and British strikes on Iraqi targets, carried out just in time for the country's national holiday. President Vladimir Putin then sent a telegram to Saddam Hussein, congratulating him on the holiday, but wishing him, in particular, to make efforts to prevent a military inter-

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Venice, and to do this - to return the UN inspectors 8.

On October 10-11, 2002, the U.S. House of Representatives and then the Senate passed a resolution allowing the President to wage war against Iraq without UN approval.

In early October 2002, the United States and Britain submitted to the UN Security Council a draft resolution on Iraq, which provided for the possibility of military action if Saddam Hussein refused to cooperate with UNMOVIC. Russia, France and China were opposed. After much discussion, the Security Council adopted a tough resolution No. 1441 on November 8, 2002, which did not mean the automatic use of military force against Iraq.

War was coming anyway, and Saddam Hussein allowed UNMOVIC representatives to start working in the country. After some time, they reported that they had found no evidence in Iraq of the presence or development of weapons of mass destruction. Washington simply ignored their report and continued to repeat its arguments, escalating military preparations.

The corresponding processing of American public opinion continued year after year. On February 5, 2003, Colin Powell (then US Secretary of State) demonstrated to the UN Security Council a certain ampoule allegedly containing anthrax bacilli as "evidence" of secret Iraqi activities. It all looked extremely frivolous. His claims were rejected by representatives of Russia, France, and China. As early as 2004, Powell admitted that his data was largely inaccurate and sometimes falsified.

As early as September 18, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet informed George W. Bush that according to information from Saddam Hussein's inner circle, Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction.9

This information has not been reported to the US Congress and has not been made public.

The American Center for Civic Responsibility, together with the Foundation for the Independence of Journalism, conducted a study in which it was estimated that from September 2001 to September 2003, the US leadership made 935 statements on Iraq 10 that did not correspond to reality, i.e. lied, distorted or distorted the facts. The fact that US President Bush, justifying the war in Iraq, simply lied, was stated in his election speeches by US presidential candidate Donald Trump11.

The report of the commission under the leadership of Sir John Chilcot on the war in Iraq, which appeared in 2016 on the basis of seven years of work, confirmed the anti-war position of Russia. The decision to intervene militarily by Great Britain was hasty, based on incorrect data, and led to the failure of the entire campaign.12

Be that as it may, public opinion in the United States, the president and Congress were determined to go to war.

Russia believed that Saddam Hussein should have given in. The prospect of a second Gulf War was emerging.

On November 24, 2002, President Bush visited St. Petersburg, where Vladimir Putin urged him not to start wars without the consent of the UN Security Council. Russia's position remained the same: to seek a political solution within the UN Security Council. Moscow understood that war was inevitable, but Russia did not want a confrontation with the United States and the West.

On February 7, 2003, the UN Security Council, by a vote of three of its members, refused to adopt a new resolution paving the way for a military invasion of Iraq. The United States and Great Britain openly prepared for war and chose the right time.

Shortly before the start of the American war in Iraq, as a last-ditch effort, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Ye. Primakov for a personal meeting with Saddam Hussein. "Three weeks before the start of the American operation against Iraq in 2003... I flew to Baghdad after a late-night conversation with President Vladimir Putin, who instructed me to immediately and personally deliver his personal message to Saddam Hussein. Primakov. - The message was intended to call for the resignation of the President and appeal to the Iraqi Parliament with a proposal to hold democratic elections. Fearing the possibility that Saddam's departure could cause internal destabilization in Iraq, Putin instructed Saddam Hussein to tell him that he could, for example, keep his post in the party... The conversation took place one - on-one. After that, Saddam Hussein invited some members of the government to participate in the conversation in order to listen to the essence of Vladimir Putin's message and feel their mood. ... Saddam patted me on the shoulder in silence and left. As Saddam left, Tariq Aziz said loudly for Saddam to hear: "In ten years' time, we'll see who was right. Our favorite president or Primakov " 13.

Saddam Hussein's complete loss of sense of reality was obvious. Assessing the fate and death of the dictator, E. Primakov wrote: "Another feature of Saddam's character was that he did not seek to obtain objective information. ... Fearing possible disgrace, his entourage informed him mainly about those events, processes, and trends that emphasized the" foresight, foresight, and genius of the leader"and clearly avoided giving negative but truthful information." 14 His fate was sealed.

The war began on March 19, 2003. The United States managed to put together

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the coalition, which includes 49 countries, from the UK to Ukraine and Georgia, from Latvia to South Korea. It is important to note that among the Arab countries, only Kuwait was among the members of the coalition. Most of the "allies" did not send combat units to Iraq, and Turkey refused to allow American troops to enter its territory. Therefore, the operation was conducted from the south and was somewhat delayed. The losses of American troops amounted to only 140 people killed 15.

Three weeks after the start of the war, coalition forces approached Baghdad, and on April 9, the Republican Guard, supposedly the most combat-ready units of the Iraqi army, surrendered the city without a fight.

The United States and its allies seized control of the country's largest cities with small losses. The Iraqi army was falling apart and could not withstand the well-equipped American and British troops with the latest weapons. Allied aircraft dominated the skies. The command of the Iraqi forces either fled or surrendered to the enemy. It was believed that many generals were simply bribed. Most of the personnel left their positions as the coalition forces approached.

The Commander-in-Chief of the occupation Forces, General T. Franks, assumed control of Iraq until May 2003. But the country no longer had an army, police, or government apparatus. Mass looting began. Tens of thousands of monuments and art objects from the ancient civilizations of Sumer and Babylon were damaged, destroyed or stolen.

On May 1, 2003, US President George W. Bush announced a US military victory on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf: "Mission accomplished." There were still many years of frustration and bloodshed before the triumph actually turned into a defeat, but so far the military occupation of Iraq has become a fact.

The war between the United States and Great Britain was perceived extremely negatively in Russia, but Russia could not do anything, but it had to reckon with the realities.

April 2, 2003 Putin said that Russia "does not want the United States to be defeated in Iraq." 16

On April 11, 2003, Vladimir Putin met with French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Georg Schroeder in St. Petersburg. They discussed the post-war structure and reconstruction of Iraq and called on the UN to play a leading role in this. Their calls caused irritation in Washington. However, after the victory of President Bush allegedly made the decision to "Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia"17. Be that as it may, these were all words to reassure the leadership and public opinion in these countries. The complete political and economic dominance of the United States and its allies in Iraq was clear.

In geopolitical and economic terms, the blow to Russian interests was obvious. But it was necessary to save face, so Moscow argued that disagreements over the Iraq crisis should not interfere with the actions of the international anti-terrorist coalition.18

Bush flew to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg, and during the G8 summit in Evian in June 2003, he demonstrated "warm relations" with Putin.

The anti-terrorist coalition was meant to be a collaboration between Russia and the West against Islamic extremists, who dramatically increased their activity after the US invasion of Afghanistan and the Second Gulf War. Common concerns about the "green threat" seemed to push the two countries closer, but broad cooperation did not occur.

Moscow pragmatically recognized the US dominance in occupied Iraq and its serious economic and political losses as a result of the American triumph, so they built a political course taking into account the fait accompli.

Russia voted in the Security Council to recognize the interim American occupation administration, and then to recognize the interim Iraqi Government. Russia also recognized, albeit with reservations, the interim constitution of Iraq. The Prime Minister of the interim Iraqi government, Ayad Allawi, even visited Moscow in December 2004. The talks were about writing off Iraq's debts to Russia, which in exchange insisted on preserving the agreements reached by Russian companies with the former regime on the exploitation of oil fields.

Russia's officially declared position was that the UN should participate in Iraqi affairs, preserve the country's territorial integrity, democratize public life, take into account the interests of national and religious minorities, and end the American occupation. The United States, for its part, despite its military triumph and seemingly complete dominance in Iraq, needed to legitimize it with the help of the UN and, in any case, some verbal support from Russia.

Almost immediately after the occupation, a guerrilla war broke out in the country. The exception was in Kurdish areas, where there was a government that was sympathetic to the United States and hoped to cooperate with them. Nachi-

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Since the spring of 2004, there has been fighting in Shiite cities in Central and southern Iraq, as well as in the" Sunni triangle " - especially in the city of Fallujah, where Sunni extremists operated.

But it seemed that in August-September 2004, resistance to the occupation decreased. On January 30, 2005, Iraq held a multi-party parliamentary election, which was won by the Shiite United Alliance, which received 48% of the vote. The Russian Federation has restored diplomatic relations with the new Government.

Shiites in power began to discriminate against Sunnis, which deepened the division of society.

In the spring and autumn of 2005, a number of terrorist attacks took place in Iraq, both against the occupying forces and against local Iraqi military and religious leaders.

In 2006, there was practically a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. Militants on both sides blew up mosques, abducted and killed civilians, and tortured those captured. Al-Anbar province, as well as most of Baghdad, was not controlled by either the Americans or the government, and Al-Qaeda's position here was sharply strengthened. It became clear that the situation in Iraq was out of control and some decisive action was needed.

The winning aura around Bush evaporated, the Republican Party lost its popularity, and on November 7, 2006, it lost its majority in both houses of Congress. Under these circumstances, Bush was forced to dismiss Secretary of Defense D. Rumsfeld and other neoconservatives.

The Baker-Hamilton Special Commission, established on a bipartisan basis in 2006, noted the critical state of affairs in Iraq and recommended an immediate announcement of the timing of the reduction of US forces and their withdrawal. She also recommended that the United States hold talks with Iran and Syria, which had an impact on the situation in the country. President Bush effectively ignored its recommendations.19

The last high-profile event in 2006 in Iraq was the execution of Saddam Hussein, who was arrested a few months ago. There were a lot of crimes on it, but the trial was accelerated. Apparently, the American curators of the court did not want Hussein to talk too much. He was hanged on 30 December 2006.

The Americans tried to reverse the situation and introduced an additional 21,000-strong group into the country, which in 2007 was able to temporarily establish control over the "Sunni triangle" and a large part of Baghdad. The loyalty of many sheikhs of nomadic and settled tribes who were dissatisfied with the actions of Al-Qaeda was bought. It would seem that the situation has calmed down. But the split in society deepened. Instead of al-Qaeda, extreme extremists were gaining more and more influence, and after a while they created their own group, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or DAESH in Arabic).

New parliamentary elections were held in 2010. The Al-Iraqiya bloc, led by former Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, won the most votes. But Nouri al-Maliki was able to retain the post of Prime Minister. It relied on a bloc of religiously minded Shiite parties. Schism and confusion were observed among both Shiites and Sunnis. Iran was gaining more and more influence in the country.

But so far, a temporary "pacification" in the Sunni triangle allowed US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to lower the flag of the American contingent in Baghdad on December 15, 2011 and announce the end of the American operation in this country. President Obama said yesterday at a military base in North Carolina that the United States is leaving Iraq a "sovereign, stable and self-sufficient" state.

During the war, the United States lost 4423 dead, 31942 wounded, 9 thousand deserted. To these, we need to add approximately 650 dead from private paramilitary security services and 933 contract soldiers in the US army, without specifying their nationalities.20 Great Britain lost 179 dead, Italy-33, Poland-23, Ukraine-18, Georgia-5, Latvia-3, Estonia-2 21.

Dozens more US troops were killed after the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

For almost 9 years of the American occupation, Sunni-Shiite contradictions have resulted in constant bloody clashes, in fact, in a civil war. Between 250,000 and 1 million Iraqi citizens were killed in the internecine struggle. The number of Christians in Iraq has dropped from about a million to 250,000. About 5 million people have left the country. The central government in Baghdad was Shiite in nature and antagonized Sunnis in the three central and western provinces. Iraq was actually split into 3 parts: Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite. The Kurds have created a virtually independent Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.

The de-Baathization of Iraq destroyed the state apparatus, the very structure of power, and destroyed the army and police. Former political emigrants who were put in charge of the country did not have their own socio-political base, engaged in squabbles and were forced to

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rely on Shiite religious parties.

Former Ba'athist officers who were left without jobs or means of support, shot at and trained, formed the military backbone of Islamist terrorist organizations, including ISIL.

Russia has sought to maintain working relations with the Iraqi administration, hoping that the old ties and interests of the Iraqis will make it possible to continue to some extent the former Russian-Iraqi cooperation in the economic and military fields. Of course, it was clear that Baghdad had to act with the United States in mind all the time, but nevertheless, some window of opportunity was opening for Russia.

Negotiations on the debt lasted several years. Finally, in February 2008, the Russian Federation agreed to immediately write off Iraq's $11.1 billion debt, another $900 million over several years, and restructure another $900 million over 17 years. This opened up opportunities for Russian oil companies to return to Iraq.

On December 12, 2009, a consortium consisting of Lukoil and Statoil of Norway, as well as Iraqis, won the tender for the right to develop the West Qurna-2 field .22 This is one of the largest deposits in the world that has not yet been developed.

Statoil then sold its stake to Lukoil, which became the owner of 75% of the shares, the remaining 25% belonged to the Iraqi Northern Oil Company. American and other competitors were afraid of risks, and Lukoil knew what it was doing.

The West Qurna-2 field was discovered by Soviet geologists in 1973, 65 km northwest of the Iraqi city of Basra, and its exploration was carried out in the 70s and 80s. Recoverable reserves were estimated at $ 13 - $ 14 billion. 23. The contract is valid for 20 years with the right of extension for 5 years. It was concluded on less favorable terms than the agreement in the time of Saddam Hussein.

Lukoil CEO Vagit Alekperov said that by the end of the first quarter of 2016, the corporation had already reimbursed $5.6 billion. for the development of West Qurna-2, another $1.5 billion remains unpaid 24. Commercial success is obvious. The plans indicated an annual production figure of 95 million tons over 13 years. This figure can be adjusted.

Bash-Neft, Rosneft, and Gazprom Neft sought to get their share in Iraq. Lukoil Overseas, together with Japan's Inpex Corporation, has secured the right to explore for a potential rich oil block 10, near West Qurna 2.

There were problems with oil production in Iraqi Kurdistan. Baghdad has repeatedly stated that all international companies that cooperate with Iraqi Kurdistan without the permission of the federal government will be subject to sanctions, and Russian companies are no exception. But things were getting better somehow.

Russia has maintained a strong economic position in Iraq. Baghdad was interested in supplying Russian weapons. But Russia did not have any serious political influence or any socio-political base in Iraq.

Events in Iraq were moving along a completely unpredictable trajectory. The United States was forced to reap the fruits of its many mistakes and to some extent even restore its military presence in the country, not to mention intervening in the form of almost continuous bombing. But more on that in another chapter.


Russian-Turkish relations

In the noughties and early years of the second decade of the twenty-first century, relations between Russia and Turkey rose sharply in all areas: trade, economic, political, military-technical, and cultural. Contradictions remained, but they were overshadowed by growing mutual understanding even on some sensitive political and military issues. Economic cooperation has reached a new level. Turkey has been developing dynamically, and the Russian economy has emerged from the crisis, partly due to high oil prices and the general stabilization of the situation. Both countries needed each other. Friendly relations were helped by certain political steps of Ankara.

P. V. Stegny * * 25: "In 2003, Erdogan did not allow Americans to enter Iraq through the territory of Turkey. Our top officials were absolutely sure that the Turks would be allowed in, but I wrote from the very beginning that they would not be allowed in. They flogged me and said you looked funny. But it so happened that I had a strong personal relationship with a close friend of Erdogan at that time. Of course, he didn't say anything directly to me, but in the context of informal communication, an impression was created from which absolutely definite conclusions could be drawn. Then there was trust in each other.

Author: Then the relationship went on increasing.

* The author used in this section the factual material collected by A. S. Khodunov (IB RAS).

** P. V. Stegny-Soviet / Russian diplomat, historian, writer, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia to Kuwait (1992-1998), Turkey (2003 - 2007), Israel (2007 - 2011). Director of the Historical and Documentary Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry (1998-2003).

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P. V. Stegny: Exactly. In 2004, the head of the security department (they have one in the Foreign Ministry) comes to me and says:"Old man, let's sign an agreement to keep this loose-fisted NATO out of our Black Sea." I tell him, and we had such a playful conversation: "What about you? Have you left NATO? I don't believe it." He tells me: "We support anti-terrorist operations, but we can do it with you, with the coastal states, and ourselves. Why build a zoo here with all sorts of warships from non-coastal countries? If we break the Montreux logic, then we will never restore it." I say to him: "I can tell you in advance that we will have a full understanding of this question. But write to me in writing, because no one will believe me." He texted. I sent it all - no reply, no greetings. Then they write to me: prepare an agreement on the "Black Sea harmony". It finally reached us. They believed the Turks. That's how our relationship developed in spurts. Two or three months later, we agreed in principle to cooperate within the framework of the "Black Sea harmony", and in 2006 we formally signed an agreement, as if paired with NATO operations in the Black Sea: monitoring the situation, exchanging information on terrorist activities, criminal activities and weapons of mass destruction in the Black Sea. In direct communication with the NATO monitoring system, we had to do quite far-reaching things.

Author: Was there any mention of the Montreux Convention?

P. V. Stegny: We have confirmed that we adhere to the Montreux Convention. There were also 8 countries, including Japan. I'll tell you more. The Turks during the Georgian events in 2008 did not allow large American warships, no matter how much the Americans pressed them. They allowed for a limited period of time only those warships that met the Montreux Convention.

Author: There were prerequisites for this.

Pavel Stegny: One of the main reasons for the warming of Russian-Turkish relations in the noughties was that the issue of the Straits and the Black Sea, which had been a major irritant between our two countries for many centuries, was removed from the agenda. I'm talking about controlling the Black Sea. Our coastline was then reduced to a symbolic one, comparable to other countries. Romania and Bulgaria joined NATO. The situation and the balance of power have seriously changed, especially since Turkey has never left NATO. It has changed its policy within NATO, but it has always been a NATO flank country. In December 2004, Vladimir Putin paid a visit. This is the point where it all started. We have developed a personal trusting relationship with Erdogan."

We will note that our conversation took place in March 2015. Neither my interlocutor nor the author expected a dramatic turn of events at the end of 2015.

Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to Turkey in December 2004 and signed several intergovernmental agreements and a joint political declaration on deepening friendship and multifaceted partnership. "The Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey, two friendly neighboring countries, note with satisfaction the further development and deepening of the political, economic and social foundations of bilateral relations and the strengthening of the atmosphere of mutual trust and solidarity in them... The Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey note with satisfaction the similarity or similarity of their principled approaches to many international and regional problems. " 26

In January 2005, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a working visit to Moscow. He paid a second visit to Russia in August 2008, meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Turkey in July 2008 and September of the same year, while his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu visited Russia in July 2009.27

Relations between the parliaments of the two countries also developed. Turkish parliamentarians noted that they have a negative attitude to Georgia's aggression in August 2008.28

On May 12, 2010, when President Dmitry Medvedev was in Ankara, the Highest-level Cooperation Council was established, which allowed us to talk about a strategic partnership between the Russian Federation and Turkey; at the same time, its first meeting was held. The Council consists of the Economic Commission, a strategic planning group chaired by foreign ministers, and a social forum focused on cultural and religious cooperation. 29

There has been a noticeable intensification of relations in the military and security spheres. In June 2007, the Commander of the Turkish Air Force F. Djomert arrived on a visit to Russia, and from the Russian side, Turkey was mainly visited-

* The Montreux Convention-the convention that restored Turkey's sovereignty over the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Adopted at the Conference on the Regime of the Black Sea Straits, held on June 22 - July 21, 1936 in Montreux (Switzerland). The tonnage, number and time of stay in the Black Sea of warships of non-Black Sea countries were limited.

page 9

Navy Commander V. Vysotsky (June 2008) and Defense Minister A. Serdyukov (November 2008). First Deputy Director of the FSB V. Pronichev paid a visit to Turkey in January 2009. 30

Russian and Turkish naval forces in the Black Sea have established cooperation in order to ensure the security of the region. Note that in the noughties, the balance of power between the Russian and Turkish Navies in the Black Sea, with the exception of the Russian nuclear missile potential, tended in favor of Turkey.

In January 2009, Russian-Turkish naval exercises were held. Russian enterprises began to supply weapons to Turkey because it was interested in new Russian military technologies that its NATO allies could not or would not supply. Russian-Turkish political and military cooperation has taken real shape. It seemed that it was becoming a significant factor of stability in the region31.

The warming of relations was helped by Russia's cautious approach to the Kurdistan Workers ' Party, which is considered a "terrorist organization"in Turkey. Transcaucasia remained a rather difficult point in bilateral relations. Turkey traditionally supported Azerbaijan, while Russia tried to play the role of an equidistant partner from Armenia and Azerbaijan, interested in a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Karabakh. Turkey supported the idea of Georgia joining NATO, which Russia objected to. However, during the 2008 Georgian conflict, Turkey prevented the delivery of US aid to Georgia, preventing the American squadron from passing through the Straits.

R. Erdogan announced that his country stands in solidarity with Russia. Ankara even attempted to take on a peacemaking role in the Caucasus, proposing in August 2008 the creation of a" Platform for Stability and Cooperation in the Caucasus " with the participation of all regional states. Turkey and Russia even managed to come to a common position, considering that interference of extra-regional powers in the affairs of the Caucasus is unacceptable. Both countries also held similar positions on the Iranian nuclear issue, believing that it should be resolved exclusively by political means.32

In the second half of the noughties, Russia came out on the 2nd place after Germany in Turkish foreign trade. Russia's main export items are gas, oil, and metal products. Machinery and equipment, textiles, food, and chemical products were exported from Turkey to Russia. In 2008, the trade turnover increased to $37.9 billion. It plummeted to $22.6 billion. in the crisis of 2009, but then began to recover rapidly-up to $33.3 billion in 2012. 33

Energy played a key role in economic cooperation, including the Blue Stream gas pipeline, which was opened in 2005. Turkey received part of its Russian gas via the Balkans. Gazprom, the Russian gas supplier, fulfilled its obligations flawlessly and therefore enjoyed the confidence of the Turkish side34. Trade was unbalanced: Russian exports were several times higher than imports from Turkey.

Turkey's agreement with Russia's Atomenergoproekt to build a $20 billion nuclear power plant in Akkuyu was strategically important. In May 2010, 5 intergovernmental agreements on nuclear energy were signed, including an agreement on cooperation in the construction and operation of a nuclear power plant. The parties agreed that they will cooperate in the design and construction of nuclear power plants, development and construction of the necessary infrastructure, project management, commissioning of nuclear power plants, scientific support to ensure its safety and other technical measures, as well as in the exchange of experience and information on working with nuclear power plants.35 The plant should include four power units with a capacity of 1200 MW each.

It was supposed to be the first nuclear power plant project in the world to be implemented using the build-own-operate model. In 2011, full-scale engineering surveys began on the NPP construction site, despite either spontaneous or organized public protests.

Turkey's nuclear plans were not limited to the Akkuyu plant - negotiations were held with Chinese, French and American firms on the construction of nuclear power plants on the Black Sea coast and in the north-western part of the country.

In 2005, Russia's Alfagroup acquired a 49% stake in the Turkish company Chukurova Telecom Holding, which owns Turksel, the largest mobile operator in Turkey. In 2009, the Turkish branch of Lukoil bought a network of gas stations of the Turkish company Akpet, which accounted for 5% of the retail market of petroleum products.

Russian tourism to Turkey grew rapidly. In 2010, it was visited by about 3 million Russians, who left more than $3 billion here. In order to further boost tourism, in May 2010 the parties signed an agreement on the abolition of the visa regime.36

Russian-Turkish cultural ties, including their religious aspect, have developed significantly.

page 10

The visit of Turkish President A. Gul to Russia on February 12-15, 2009 was for the first time called a "state visit". The Turkish delegation included the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, the Minister of Trade, as well as the Turkish business elite, which testified to the paramount importance of economic issues for the two countries. During the talks, the parties discussed the Blue Stream 2 gas pipeline project. A. Gul visited Tatarstan and met with the President of the Republic M. Shaimiev, which reflected the traditional desire of Turkey to cooperate with the Turkic-speaking subjects of the Russian Federation.

Gul's visit to Russia resulted in the signing of a Joint declaration on deepening the multifaceted partnership in bilateral relations. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that the Declaration represents "a new step in the development of not only political, trade and economic ties, but also humanitarian cooperation."37.

Activation of mutually beneficial cooperation required improvement of the existing legal framework. During the zero years, a dozen and a half agreements and protocols were signed.

So, in the zero years and at the beginning of the second decade of the XXI century, relations between Russia and Turkey in key areas developed exceptionally successfully. Not a single country in the Middle East, not a single NATO country, has achieved such a level of cooperation in terms of volume and diversity.

The parties concluded a number of fundamental agreements, two joint declarations defining the parameters of mutual interests. Russian-Turkish ties have grown dramatically, which has led to political, military, and cultural ties. But Turkey's full-scale participation in NATO, the established relations with the United States and leading European states, the revival of neo - Ottoman tendencies in Turkey's foreign policy, and the growing internal political contradictions in this country-all this made Russian-Turkish relations hostage to forces directed against their development, and even threatened to roll back. But more on that later.

Primakov E. M. 1 Confidential: The Middle East on stage and behind the scenes (the second half of the XX - beginning of the XXI century). 2nd ed., reprint. Moscow, Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 2012, p. 332.

2 6.05.2006.

3 of Vladimir_Vladimir Putin

4 Diplomatic Bulletin. 2009, N 10, p. 57.

5 Politiken (online). Copenhagen. July 18, 2002.

6 Iraq Report // RFE/RL. Vol. 4, N 40 (December 7, 2001).

Peterson Scott. 7 Russia rethinks its longtime support for Iraq // Christian Science Monitor. March 13, 2002.

8 RFE/RL Newsline. Vol. 6, N 132 (July 17, 2002).


10 Ibid.



Primakov E. M. 13 Edict. soch., pp. 328-329.

14 Ibid., p. 329.


16 Hong Kong Те Kung Pao (Internet Version) // FBIS-SOV-2003 - 0407.

Pavel Ivanov. 17 Evian Summit: The Future of Russia and the G-8 / / National Interest, 28.05.2003.

18 Interfax. 24.04.2003 - www.golos-ameriki/content/а-33 - 2006 - 12 - 07.../637716. html


20 Ibid.;

Kasaev E. O. 21 Rossiiskiy neftyanoy biznes v Irak [21 Russian oil businesses in Iraq]. 2013, No. 5, p. 37.



24 Interview with P. V. Stegnii, March 2015

25 Fn23Klb76LY2/content/id/432284/pop_up?_101_INSTANCE_Fn23Klb76LY2_viewMode=t v&_101_INSTANCE_Fn23Klb76LY2_qrIndex=0

26 History of Russian-Turkish relations. Help / / RIA Novosti. 13.01.2010 -

Guryev A. A. 27 The situation in Turkey: November 2008 / / Institute of the Middle East. 14.12.2008 - - 12 - 08b.htm

Kudryashova Yu. S. 28 Aktivizatsiya russo-turkikh otnosheniy: sushchnost ' i perspektivy [Activation of Russian-Turkish relations: essence and prospects]. 2012, No. 5, p. 38.

29 History of Russian-Turkish relations. Help / / RIA Novosti...

Pylev A. I. 30 Novye gorizonty rossiiskogo-turkskogo vzaimodeystviya (nachalo XXI v.) [New Horizons of Russian-Turkish interaction (the beginning of the XXI century)]. 2009, pp. 214-216.

Kudryashova Yu. S. 31 Edict. soch., pp. 39-40.

Shingarev R. N. 32 Cooperation between Russia and Turkey in the energy sector // Turkey: new realities in domestic politics and participation in regional geopolitical processes (proceedings of the international conference, Moscow. April 2, 2014). Moscow, MGIMO-University. 2014, p. 246.

33 Kalashnikov A.M. Goluboy potok project as an important factor in the development of Russian-Turkish relations. 2013, No. 2, pp. 100-101.

34 Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Turkey on Cooperation in the Construction and Operation of the Akkuyu Nuclear power Plant in the Republic of Turkey. 12.05.2010 -

Kudryashova Yu. S. 35 Edict. soch., p. 43.

Pylev A. I. 36 Decree. op., pp. 209, 221.

37 Ibid.


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