KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine will provide Iraq with $2.5 billion worth of weapons and military equipment under a deal intended to short up Iraq's fledgling armed forces before the planned pullout of U.S. troops, a senior Ukrainian lawmaker said Wednesday.
Anatoly Grytsenko, head of the Ukrainian parliament's security and defense committee, said the agreement with the Iraqi ministry of defense calls for Ukraine to produce and deliver 420 BTR-4 armored personnel carriers, six AN-32B military transport planes and other military hardware to Iraq."It's worth around $2.5 billion," Grytsenko, who previously served as Ukraine's defense minister, told The Associated Press after being briefed on the deal Wednesday by state arms exporter UkrSpetsExport. UkrSpetsExport, which is handling the contracts, declined numerous requests for comment Wednesday."The deals have been concluded. They are now formalizing the contracts," Grytsenko said. "The contract is to be carried out in stages and, from what I was told, just the first stage is worth $400 million."Grytsenko said the deal also included repair work on two Mi-8T military helicopters for Iraq.President Barack Obama laid out plans to withdraw troops from Iraq and pass security operations in the country back to Iraqi police and armed forces.The United States is providing billions of dollars in military aid to ready the Iraqis for the task of policing a country still plagued by insurgents and suicide bombings. A string of suicide bombings Tuesday killed at least 127 people and wounded over 500 in the Iraqi capital.The deal will be the largest in Ukraine's history and could elevate the former Soviet nation to the ranks of the top arms dealers in the world this year, said Sergei Zgurets, head of research at the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CACDS), a Kiev-based think-tank.