The Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fuad Hussein, and the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, during a joint press conference. Photo: Al-Arabiya News
On April 17th, during the visit to Baghdad, the Ukrainian foreign minister held a joint press conference with the Iraqi foreign minister, seeking support from Middle Eastern countries, that have long had ties with the Russian Federation. Iraqi foreign minister was ready to “help the two parties to first reach a ceasefire, then to start discussions”.
After the visit of the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, in Iraq on the 6th of February, the Ukrainian foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, participated in a press conference in Baghdad on April 17th, alongside Iraqi foreign minister Fuad Hussein.
Even though the Russian visit was not focused mainly on the war in Ukraine, Kuleba’s visit demonstrated to try and find a new ally in Iraq.
Since the invasion of Ukraine started, most nations took definitive stances in the war. While most of the Middle Eastern countries have long been divided in interest between the United States and the Russian Federation, Iraq has had ties with both superpowers.
Now with the EU and the US supporting Ukraine and China supporting Russia, it is hard to find neutral countries to enable diplomatic talks between the two belligerents. Many other countries have offered to aid in the peace talks, such as the UAE, China, the US, the EU or Brazil, but all of them have clear economic and political biases, while Iraq is involved with the US military in a pursuit to dismantle ISIS, and is subject to heavy investment from Russia.
The Ukrainian foreign minister has made it clear that in order for peace talks to commence, there has to be ceasefire, but strongly affirmed that the Russian side of the conflict seeks war. While the Russian foreign minister stated in his prior visit that for a ceasefire to become viable, the Ukrainian government has to acknowledge the annexation of the Russian occupied territory. Fuad Hussein declared that he has communicated to both sides that Iraq is willing to mediate the conflict.
Peace talks between the two sides appear to be near impossible, as neither government wants to compromise on major issues. The Iraqi foreign minister insisted during the press conference that the most important step is a ceasefire, which would make diplomatic talks between the Russian government and the Ukrainian government more likely to happen.
The Russo-Ukrainian war continues on after more than a year since the special military operation commenced by Russian President Vladimir Putin, with no signs of an end in sight. The Ukrainian military pushes to regain the borders before the invasion, while the Russian military seeks to control as much of Ukraine as possible, in order to establish political and economic influence in the region.
While both sides suffer military casualties, the civilian population suffered the most, with the relocation of millions of people from the Eastern parts of Ukraine, cities destroyed and with the economic hardships that war brings on any country, both countries look to end the war, but on their terms, with no compromises.
The official visit in Baghdad will become of interest in the development of the conflict, and especially it will strengthen the international outlook of Iraq, after decades of instability and war.