Afghan Border Police members and Kandahar Air Wing pilots offload humanitarian aid from an Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter© Photo: US Army / 1st Lt. Veronica Aguila
An Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter takes off for an air-assault training flight from Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan© Photo: US Army / Staff Sgt. Todd Pouliot
WASHINGTON, November 13 (RIA Novosti) – The United States has scrapped plans to purchase additional helicopters from state-run Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport amid pressure from federal lawmakers over Russian arms deliveries to Syria, a top US senator said Wednesday.
“I applaud the [US] Defense Department’s decision to cancel its plan to buy 15 additional Mi-17 helicopters from Rosoboronexport,” US Sen. John Cornyn said in statement, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, has been leading a push in Congress to oppose the Pentagon’s purchase of Russian helicopters for deployment in Afghanistan due to Moscow’s weapons shipments to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad as his forces battle rebel groups in a fierce civil war.
Russia has insisted that it is fulfilling existing contracts with Syria, and that the deliveries are legal under international law. Moscow has also questioned the composition and goals of the various armed groups fighting the Assad regime.
A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed to RIA Novosti on Wednesday that the United States does not have plans to purchase additional Mi-17s from Rosoboronexport beyond previous orders.
US defense officials had requested Congressional funds for next year "to provide additional enhancements for the Afghan National Security Forces" but have since "re-evaluated requirements in consultation with Congress," the spokesperson said.
The 15 Russian-built Mi-17s were slated to be purchased by the Pentagon next year for $345 million and then given to Afghan national security forces, the AP reported.
“Doing business with the supplier of these helicopters has been a morally bankrupt policy, and as a nation, we should no longer be subsidizing Assad’s war crimes in Syria,” Cornyn said in the statement cited by the AP.
The United States has purchased a total of 63 Mi-17V-5 military transport helicopters from Russia for use by the Afghan National Army.
The United States and several other countries accuse Assad’s government of being behind an August 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus that Washington claims left more than 1,400 dead.
The Syrian government in turn has accused rebel groups it has been battling since March 2011 of being behind the attack, though it agreed to a Russia-brokered deal to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal.
The deal was struck amid threats by Washington that it would carry out military strikes against Syrian government targets in response to the Aug. 21 attack.
Updated with Pentagon comments
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- agnesmariaAmid Pressure05:56, 14/11/2013Capitulation, self-righteousness and pettiness. The U.S. is weak.
- LocoIvanToo bad, soo sad :(18:11, 14/11/2013"re-evaluated requirements in consultation with Congress,"
Nothing new here, this was just a matter of time. When the cost of this inferior Russian iron goes up nearly 100%, there is something definitely wrong.
‘The unit cost of the new helicopters has escalated dramatically in recent years, according to watchdog groups and government documents, from around $10.5 million each in 2009 to $19 million today.’(BI;29Aug2013)
‘Capitulation, self-righteousness and pettiness.’
A typical transplanted Slav, Russian/Polish or whatever you are, whom enjoys the freedoms of a North American country only to come here with your venomous spew toward the West, you will fit in well, to say the least, LOL. It must be terribly uncomfortable for you to suffer menses from two orifices.
‘The U.S. is weak.’
You only have to look toward the Philippines relief effort to see just how ‘weak’ the Americans are.
- haavarlaObama Veto all over again17:44, 14/11/2013This latest event does not change a thing. The Obama Admin will again use their Veto and force this deal through. Its not a matter of if, but when this follow up deal will happend.
- R.Deus-von HomeyerRE:TO BE OR NOT TO BE...22:01, 14/11/2013Sadly,you Americans always mix business with politics!
..."infirior Russian iron...bla,bla,bla...
Why then the Pentagon bought already 67 Russian helicopters,if theiy are soooooooooooooooo infirior?
OF COURSE...everything American is VERY SUPERIOR!!! Starting with your fast food joints!
Fact is...as EVERYWHERE on this Planet,workers DEMAND higher salaries;the developing countrie with the most natural resources are also NOT stupid,my dear fellow Americans...they also want HIGHER Bprices for thei ores.
RESULT:EVERYTHING on this Earth gets more and more expensive.
And if the Pentagon does NOT want Russian helicopters...Oooooooooooooh,the Russians will commit suiside,you think?
- LocoIvanYes, Newbie.00:43, 15/11/2013‘Lots of words, but they are far from reality.’
Boy you have a lot to learn about these Russian commentators here where reality is as fleeting/vaporous as their водка. Stick around and you will be schooled, if you have the stones.
‘The reason is, pilots in Afghanistan are already familiar with Russian helicopters. It would take years of training to prepare them for other types.’
This has already been discussed in the RiaNovosti article:
‘Pentagon to Buy Russian Helicopters Despite Ban’
‘The Russian helicopters…are generally not as sophisticated or advanced as those made in the United States, making them arguably more suitable for use by Afghan security forces.’
A measure meant to get the Afghans up and running quickly without ‘reinventing the wheel’ re-schooling them for flight/maintenance training in the superior American birds.
Welcome to 05April2013, slick.
- Buran(no title)14:46, 15/11/2013Boy you have a lot to learn about these Russian commentators here
You make an assumption that these are Russian posters. Russians don't read the news about Russia in English. Should be common sense, right? Apparently, not for you. Lots people in this world have an antipathy towards the US foreign policy.
- R.Deus-von HomeyerRE:The journalists at www.RIA./English edition19:58, 16/11/2013My dearest,dearest Locolvan,
I lived for years in USA(New York,Dallas,TX,Northern&Southern California) and recently also in Australia and I studied USA law in Berkeley,California.
Do you think I can not diferenciate a NATIVE English speaker from SOMEONE,who learned English JUST in the High School?
The commentators here,on this web page are PREDOMINANTLY either British or Americans or Australians.
Here,in Berlin,Germany we can watch "VOICE of Russia",a Russian TV station in English and the speakers are also from English speaking countries.
As for the helicopters...I will advise you to ask my friend on FACEBOOK ColMcG or click his other Facebook profile AREA51Photography.He is a retired pilot from ENGLAND and he will assure you,that pilots training does NOT take years!
Now...in my humble opinion it is better to buy Russian helicopters(even they might be "rubbish"),because it will be EASIER to transport them from Russia to Afghanistan than from USA to Afganistan.
I do not give a DIME about these helicopters...I am JUST upset,that you guys from USA or Germany are sooooooooo SUPERIOR,thinking,that Russians or Bulgarians or Polish or other Slavic people are idiots! Never heard about Lomonosov?
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