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Stratfor: Russia Can Build Air Bases in Iraq, but Probably Won’t Do It

© Sputnik / Dmitri Vinogradov / Go to the mediabankTwo russian Su-30 land at airfield near Latakia
Two russian Su-30 land at airfield near Latakia - Sputnik International
The recent events in Syria have snown that Russia is capable of building an air base in about a month; this is what the Kremlin may decide to do to strike ISIL targets in Iraq more effectively. However, in the end Moscow probably won’t do it, according to US military magazine and global intelligence company Stratfor.

In fact, Russia can already hit ISIL targets in Iraq, but since its aircraft are stationed in Latakia, Western Syria, Russian fighters have to spend less time bombing their targets in Iraq than they do it in Syria.

Russian air force strike the Islamic State in Syria - Sputnik International
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Furthermore, when flying to Iraq, Russian planes have to carry fewer missiles, because they need to use an extra fuel tank. Of course, Russia can always choose to conduct aerial refueling operations for its planes, but this might increase the chances of an accident and most importantly force Moscow to commit a lot more resources for its military campaign, Stratfor explained.

That's why it would have been more effective for Russia to set up an air force base in Iraq, so Russian planes could carry out their operations without having to fly back to air bases in Syria, Stratfor said.

"There are already many unused runways available to the Russians there, and the recent deployment into Syria has shown Russia is perfectly capable of establishing an effective air base in about a month," Stratfor pointed out.

However, to build an air base in Iraq, Russia will have to commit more resources to install logistical support systems and deploy ground forces to provide protection for an air base. This would certainly come at a cost and it's not likely that Moscow wants to commit a lot of money, Stratfor reported.

If information that British RAF pilots had been ordered to shoot down Russian fighter jets over Iraq is true, then it’s a clear provocation and an attempt to undermine Russia’s efforts not only in Syria, but also in Iraq, said Viktor Nadein-Raevskiy, a researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences. - Sputnik International
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Moreover, the deployment of Russian ground forces in Iraq to protect the air base would put Russian soldiers close to US troops already stationed in Iraq; this might increase a chance of confrontation between the United States and Russia, the magazine said.

Finally, it will depend largely on Iraq itself whether it wants to invite Russians into its own territory. The Iraqi government understands that the US forces spent a great deal of time and resources in the country and that's why Washington wouldn't be particularly pleased if the Iraqis asked the Russians to come in. Thus, Stratfor predicted that the Iraqi government wouldn't want to strain its relationship with the United States.

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