How can Russia contribute to the fight against ISIS?

It’s a high time to look at the measures taken by the international community in the fight against ISIS

Maria Dubovikova
Maria Dubovikova
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It’s a high time to look at the measures taken by the international community in the fight against ISIS and to ask ourselves a question: If we keep going like this, how soon will ISIS reach the borders of the West? How much has already been lost? How much are we ready to lose in the upcoming months in our unwillingness to change approach, to rethink the situation and to understand that in this war no one can get off lightly. We cannot remain aloof or only relatively involved through assistance and useless air strikes without a full-scale international ground operation and global involvement in the settlement process. While Western aid stays inefficient and insufficient, the countries devastated and suffering under ISIS are seeking other options.

The Iraqi premiere’s visit to Russia is a sign that the pressure of ISIS is becoming enormous and that the country is running out of forces to resist it and has little hope that the sufficient aid will finally come from the West.

Iraq has a long history of bilateral relations with Russia, the rise of which started in the epoch of the Soviet Union

Maria Dubovikova

Iraq has a long history of bilateral relations with Russia, the rise of which started in the epoch of the Soviet Union. Since 2003 and the U.S. intervention in Iraq, which was strongly condemned by Russia, the contact between the two countries was practically lost and the parties have spent years on rebuilding the ties and once prosperous cooperation. Russia invests a lot in the country even now, when the investments are very risky, and this is highly appreciated by the Iraqis. Russia’s president has mentioned that the overall trade turnover between the two countries stays relatively low, but it has grown ten-fold in the past two years even despite the deep crisis in the Middle East and the economic problems.

Bilateral relations

The visit of the Iraqi PM to Moscow is a continuation of the long and sustainable process of the bilateral relations building, but in the current historical moment it’s much more significant especially in terms of regional stability.

Russia, is a needed partner for Iraq in terms of the urgent weapons deliveries. Russia can really deliver the needed weaponry in the shortest time, with no any precondition or stipulation. Then the price on the Russian weapons is lower, while the quality is very high.

Iraqi military trade with Russia is not a new trend. What is new is the word “aid” that was used while talking about the military cooperation. According to Russian officials, it is eager to take all possible measures to assist Iraq in its fight against ISIS. Iraqi’s PM arrival to Russia for assistance and support doesn’t mean the break of its relations with its Western allies, while the criticism of them will rise in Iraqi decision-making circles. Nevertheless it does not mean that Russia competes with or ousts the traditional dominant players in the region. Firstly it has no such interests, as its presence in the region is still very limited and the region is not in its high priorities. Secondly it has no such capacities and influence.


The West has been willing to make Russia join the U.S. led anti-ISIS coalition for a long time. Opposing the core and philosophy of the ongoing operation that has no approval and mandate of the key international organization, Russia took the position of non-involvement in the direct fighting however keeping an eye on the processes there and cooperating with the regional powers in terms of security issues as well as delivering weapons to the allied Syrian regime, in what was seen with much skepticism and discontent by the international community. The threat of ISIS is far more tangible threat for Russia than for any other country outside the Middle East.

Now Russia, keen to condemn and demonstrate skepticism towards the coalition forces and measures taken, takes its own steps to contribute to the general attempts to stop the spread of ISIS. These steps and maneuvers are in the interests of all the players.

The problem of the ISIS spread, the barbarity and mass killings that follow each of their victories, needs to be countered by a common and united response. There will soon be a point of no-return, when either we send ISIS to hell or this world is turned into hell by ISIS.


Maria Dubovikova is a President of IMESClub and CEO of MEPFoundation. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations [University] of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia), now she is a PhD Candidate there. Her research fields are in Russian foreign policy in the Middle East, Euro-Arab dialogue, policy in France and the U.S. towards the Mediterranean, France-Russia bilateral relations, humanitarian cooperation and open diplomacy. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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