Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani expressed the region’s need for further relations with Russia during a meeting with Russian Federation Deputy Minister of Energy Pavel Sorokin this week in Erbil. Russia has been becoming increasingly involved in northern Iraq’s oil production industry, utilizing government-affiliated private companies to go after contracts in the region up for grabs. Russia’s involvement in the middle east has also drastically expanded in recent years drastically. Now they are getting their feet wet in Kurdistan, a vital ally of the United States in that part of the world.

President Barzani’s office released a statement post-meeting that stated,

In the meeting, the Russian energy minister talked about the challenges faced by Kurdistan’s people, but also expressed his happiness … that the Kurdistan Region continues developing despite crises. He also said that the Kurdistan Region has a special value for Russia and there is a bright future waiting for the Kurdistan Region. He also called for broader relations between Russia and the Kurdistan Region in oil, energy, modern technology fields and others. President Barzani thanked Russian and President Putin’s friendly position on the people of Kurdistan.”

President Barzani is a leading member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), one of the largest political groups in Kurdistan that holds much of the power next to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) — who are a long time political rival. President Barzani and his son, Kurdistani Prime Minister Nichervan Barzani, have met with various ministers of foreign affairs and diplomats from various nations in the recent months. The KDP now holds the majority of Kurdish seats in Iraq’s parliament, a definite factor in the world powers interest in their leading officials. The KDP and PUK leadership have recently been discussing combining political power and seats within parliament, a power play that would give them the majority of shares within parliament over any other group.