Friday, June 20, 2014 | 9:30 a.m.
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken by phone to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, expressing Moscow's support for his action against the militant offensive.
The Kremlin said in a statement that al-Maliki informed Putin on Friday about his government's steps to combat the "terrorist groups in the north of the country." It added that the insurgency threatens security of the entire region.
Putin confirmed Russia's "full support for the Iraqi government's action to quickly free the territory of the republic from terrorists," the Kremlin said, adding that Putin and al-Maliki also discussed bilateral cooperation.
Putin's expression of support for the embattled Iraqi prime minister comes as al-Maliki's rivals have mounted a campaign to force him out of office, with some angling for support from Western backers and regional heavyweights.