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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Vnukovo Awaits Word

Russia’s Vnukovo Airlines is awaiting permission from the Foreign Ministry before launching regular flights to Iraq, a company spokesman said Friday.

Alexei Sapkin, an airline spokesman, said Vnukovo hoped to start twice-weekly flights by the end of the year.

"All will depend on the decision by the Foreign Ministry," Sapkin said.

The United States and Britain insist that passenger flights to Iraq are an economic resource for Saddam Hussein’s government and a breach of UN-mandated sanctions imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

But Russia is eager to see sanctions lifted so it can resume oil contracts with Baghdad and have Iraq pay back some $8 billion in Soviet-era debt. Along with France, Moscow contends that UN resolutions do not ban passenger flights.