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Iraq Reneges on Huge Arms Deal with Russia

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- Iraq might be playing one important ally off another as it tries to stock up its military arsenal.

By all signs, Baghdad had a deal with Moscow last month to purchase $4.2 billion worth of weapons that included helicopters and surface-to-air missile systems.

However, Iraq announced over the weekend that the agreement was off, citing corruption concerns with Russia.

This all might be a ploy by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to negotiate a better deal since no specific allegation about graft was made.

Meanwhile, al-Maliki may be cozying up to the Russians to get Washington to move more quickly on signing new arms pacts with Baghdad.

According to Al Jazeera, the prime minister is not playing favorites, saying, "We buy weapons based on the needs that we feel we have."

Last month, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland downplayed any rift between the two countries, telling reporters that if all the pending military sales go forward, “it will be worth over $12.3 billion, so obviously our own military support relationship with Iraq is very broad and very deep."

Russia, on the other hand, is growing more desperate to sell arms since one of its main customers, Syria, is embroiled in a conflict that could seriously curtail business.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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