This morning, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked to clarify the Russian position on a referendum for unilateral secession among ethnic Kurds in northern Iraq. Iraq has condemned the move on multiple occasions.
Today, Peskov stated the Russian position in the following way,
“Russia’s position is the one in favour of territorial integrity of regional states”.
This is confirmation that Russia supports the existing borders of all states in which Kurdish militants seek to carve out new political territory. Such states include Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran.
This is fitting with Russia’s general commitment to the integrity of states globally as well as an indication of Russia’s historically good relations with Turkey and Iran, as well as Russia’s continually good relations with Syria and its restored positive ties with Iraq.
While Russia has generally had good relations with Kurdish groups over the centuries, Russia is clearly prioritising its relationship with states over relationships with non-state bodies.
Turkey which generally had better relations with Iraq Kurds vis-a-vis PKK aligned Syrian Kurds, has recently announced that it will implement sanctions against so-called Iraqi Kurdistan if the referendum, scheduled for the 25th of September, takes place.
With the exception of Israel, all regional powers are opposed to Kurdish separatism. The US has tended to distance itself from the Kurdish referendum in Iraq, in spite of the US having generally good relations with Iraq Kurds.
Currently, the US is in charge of a Kurdish led proxy militia in Syria known as the SDF. It is suspected that while the US will continue to urge dialogue between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurds, the US might take a more aggressive line in favour of Kurdish separatism in Syria owing to America’s humiliation in light of the failure of its regime change policy against Damascus.
In spite of international warnings to cancel the referendum, including from the UN, separatists in Iraq have stated that they will proceed with the unilateral vote on the 25th of September.