Speaking today in an interview with France 24, Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Abadi said he would welcome Russian military involvement against ISIS on Iraqi soil, and that while the two nations hadn’t discussed the matter yet, Iraq was eager for more partners.
Abadi suggested he was waiting for Russia to ask, but Russian government spokesmen suggested the opposite, saying they would “consider” involvement in Iraq if asked, but at present had no plan to extend their strikes against ISIS outside of neighboring Syria.
Russia made a deal with Iraq over the weekend on forming an information sharing pact, which will include Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Russia. The US was also invited to contribute to this Baghdad-based information center, but the US has rejected the offer so far, and is said to be scaling back existing information sharing with Iraq.
The deal will also have Russian surveillance planes flying over Iraq to track the movement of ISIS in the area around the Syrian border, though at this point Russia is suggesting that’s where their Iraq involvement stops. Much as with the US initially starting their ISIS war in Iraq and eventually expanding into Syria, however, Russia may ultimately follow suit, since ISIS territory spans both Iraq and Syria, and the border between the two at this point is largely meaningless.