Saturday, January 22, 2011

'Russia to supply copters to Afghans'

Russia and the United States are expected to hold talks later this month to pave the way for supplying Afghanistan's military with Russian helicopters, reports say.

Zamir Kabulov of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Asia department told the RIA Novosti on Friday that a group of experts from the ministry and Russia's state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, will meet with US officials in Washington.

Russia plans to deliver about 21 new Mi-17 multi-purpose helicopters to Afghanistan “under a NATO contract or to be part of a US-run tender” worth about $400 million, the report said.

Russia is currently assembling Mi-17 helicopters -- capable of carrying 37 passengers -- at two factories in the Russian Volga area city of Kazan and the East Siberian city of Ulan-Ude.

Despite imposing sanctions on Rosoboronexport in 2006 for violating the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the US has purchased dozens of Mi-17s for Afghanistan and Iraq over the past four years. Washington lifted the ban on the Russian company in May, 2010.

The new move comes as the US and Russia have expanded their cooperation in Afghanistan in a bid to pursue their own interests there.

According to a report published in the British daily Telegraph in October, 2010, the cooperation was enhanced after Russian and US forces raided heroin and opium labs in Nangarhar Province near the Pakistan border.

They reportedly destroyed $250 million worth of drugs. Russia's anti-narcotics chief says his unit closely cooperated with its US counterparts to organize the raid, which Afghan President Hamid Karzai has severely criticized. read more


blogger templates | Make Money Online