MOSCOW, March 29 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia is finishing the withdrawal of its aviation group from South Sudan where it participated in the U.N. peacekeeping operation in that country.
“An Il-76 military transport plane with the last group of Russian peacekeepers will return from South Sudan to the Migalovo aerodrome in Tver at 10:00 Moscow time on Thursday, March 29,” Air Force spokesman Vlaidmir Drik told Itar-Tass.
“After that the withdrawal of the Russian aviation group will be completed,” he said.
Nineteen Il-76 flights from Juba, South Sudan, and one flight An-124 flight from the aerodrome Entebbe, Uganda, were scheduled for a period from February 19 to March 29 for the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeepers. They will bring home 122 servicemen, four Mi-8MTV helicopters with arms and more than 400 tonnes of property and military equipment.
Since 2006, the Russian aviation group in Sudan has been providing helicopter support to the rapid reaction forces, redeployment of airmobile reserves, 24-hour medical and evacuation operations, aerial monitoring, search and rescue operations, transportation of U.N. supplies and personnel.
The Russian peacekeepers rotated every six months. Four Russian helicopter crews were constantly deployed in the country. Since 2006, they flew for over 12,000 hours, made more than 15,000 flights and transported about 100,000 passengers and 1.5 tonnes of cargoes.
On January 9, 2011, South Sudan held a referendum on self-determination and proclaimed independence on July 9. The declaration of independence has put an end to the interethnic and inter-confessional conflict between the North and the South, which started in the 1950s and has claimed more than 2 million lives.
South Sudan has become the 54th independent state in Africa.
On the following day after the declaration of independence, South Sudan President Salva Kiir submitted an official request for admission to the U.N.
Russia was one of the first countries to have recognised the Republic of South Sudan.