It is only over the last three or four year that Russia has realised how important Iraq is for Russia. As a Rosbalt correspondent reports, this was announced by President of the Committee on International, Cultural, Scientific and Business Cooperation with Iraq and former Fuel and Energy Minister Yuri Shafrannik at a press conference in Moscow on Friday, March 14. He mentioned that thousands of Russians involved in the oil and gas industry had lost their jobs when the Russian government foolishly supported the sanctions against Iraq in the early nineties. Moreover, Mr Shafrannik said, Russia had lost about USD 30 billion as a result of lost contracts with Iraq in the oil sector. Russian producers of oil and gas equipment also suffered significant losses. Unlike those countries which waged war on Iraq in 1991, though, Russia was never compensated for these losses, he said.
In Mr Shafrannik's opinion, Russia's current policy on war with Iraq suggests that Russia has realised its own interests in Iraq. He believes that in order to resolve the crisis in a peaceful way there must be joint oil projects created between Russia, the US, France and Great Britain. Moreover, Russia must not be a part of any anti-American alliance. 'Russia must realise what its interests are but there must not be any direct conflict with the US,' Mr Shafrannik insisted.