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MOSCOW, February 21 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia started an active phase of withdrawal of its peacekeeping contingent from South Sudan this past weekend, spokesman of Russia’s Sky Force Colonel Vladimir Drik said on Tuesday.
“On February 19, 2012, first Il-76 plane left the aerodrome in Tver. The crew of the military transport aviation during the first flight will deliver a part of Russian military with ammunition and equipment from the territory of the African republic,” he said. “The planned redeployment of the Russian aviation group is due to end in March, 2012.”
In order to withdraw the aviation group from the territory of South Sudan, the Sky Force will make about 20 flights on Il-76 planes and one flight on an An-124 Ruslan. The planes will deliver to the territory of the Russian Federation 120 Russian military, four Mi-8MTV helicopters and about 400 tonnes of property of the engineering-aviation service. The routes of the Russian military transport planes will go from Juba /South Sudan/ to Migalovo airport /Tver/. The Ruslan plane will deliver the Mi-8MTV helicopters at the final stage of the redeployment.
The colonel said that the Russian aviation group had been in South Sudan from April of 2006. It transported observers from the UN mission, delivered and escorted cargo and organized search and rescue operations. The rotation of the staff was made every six months according to the plan, Drik added.