Arms from the Soviet Union
From 1972 to 1979, the percentage of Iraq's military equipment
supplied by the Soviet Union declined from 95 to 63 percent. Even
so, in 1987 the Soviet Union, having provided more than US$8 billion
worth of weapons since 1980, was Iraq's most important arms supplier.
In its 1987 annual study, Soviet Military Power, the
United States Department of Defense stated that, while maintaining
official neutrality in the IranIraq War, the Soviet Union had
provided extensive military assistance to Iraq, and at the same
time, continued its efforts to gain leverage on Iran. In early
1987, Moscow delivered a squadron of twenty-four MiG-29 Fulcrums
to Baghdad. Considered the most advanced fighter in the Soviet
arsenal, the MiG-29 previously had been provided only to Syria
and India. The decision to export the MiG-29 to Iraq, also assured
Iraq a more advantageous payment schedule than any offered by
the West and it reflected Soviet support for one of its traditional
allies in the Middle East. Caught in a financial crisis, Baghdad
welcomed the low-interest loans Moscow extended for this equipment.
Although the Soviets might not receive payments for several years,
the sale of military hardware remained a critical source of revenue
for them, and they have tried to retain Iraq as a customer. In
May 1987, for example, the Soviets provided Iraq with better financial
terms in a successful effort to prevent Iraq from buying sixty
French Mirage 2000 fighters for an estimated US$3 billion. An
additional US$3 billion in sales of helicopters and radar equipment
may also have been denied to the French, although it was not possible
to determine whether the Soviets agreed to fulfill both requirements.
In early 1988, Iraq owed the Soviet Union between US$8 billion
and US$10 billion in military debts alone.
Data as of May 1988