40,000 troops and an agreement ‘in principle’ say sources
Russia, reports Stratfor, is seriously considering sending up to 40,000 troops to Iraq. If so, this has the potential to seriously affect the ongoing situation in Iraq and the campaign at home.
Moscow and Washington are quietly negotiating a request by the Bush administration to send Russian troops to Iraq or Afghanistan this fall, Russian government sources tell Stratfor. The talks are intense, our contacts close to the U.S. State Department say, and the timing is not insignificant. A Russian troop lift to either country before the U.S. presidential election would give U.S. President George W. Bush a powerful boost in the campaign.
Russia, as Stratfor reports, has agreed ‘in principle’:
Sources close to Russia’s Security Council tell Stratfor that Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to the request “in principle” and has directed the Russian General Staff to work up a plan by the end of the month.
The size of the contigent is significant as well, leaving room for the United States to act more pro-actively in the region:
If a troop agreement is reached, the Bush administration would enjoy not only a timely spike in the polls during the campaign season, but also the strategic, long-term benefit of having a sizable contingent — as many as 40,000, Stratfor sources say — of Russian troops relieve beleaguered American forces and free them up for regional purposes beyond Iraq.
There are also some details, but no unit IDs as of yet:
Formations considered for the Russian deployment include three mechanized infantry divisions and one airborne brigade, Russian military sources say.
There is, perhaps, a price for Russian deployment:
The Prime Minister’s office has issued a directive to the ministry to prepare a Russian “wish list” for Washington seeking some level of quid pro quo, including steps to return Russian oil companies to Iraq and approval of Russia’s joining the World Trade Organization.
More as it develops.
Originally posted Fri Jul 16th, 2004 at 07:02:49 PM CST