MOSCOW, March 12. /TASS/. Moscow has been searching for ways to preserve the use of Russian helicopters by the Afghan security forces, Russian Presidential Aide for Military Cooperation Vladimir Kozhin told the Rossiya 24 TV channel.
"I think we will find a way to ensure that our helicopters are used in Afghanistan to protect the country’s legitimate government," he said.
Kozhin pointed out that the United States currently supplied helicopters to Afghanistan. "All the methods and ways of anti-diplomatic pressure were employed to force Afghanistan into making this decision," he stressed.
Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Alexander Matnytsky said earlier that although western countries had launched a rearmament program for the Afghan security forces, Kabul was still interested in Russian-made helicopters.
Afghanistan’s Acting Defense Minister Tariq Shah Bahrami said earlier that the country did not need Russian-made helicopters any more since it had started to receive rotorcraft from NATO member states. At the same time, he stressed that while switching to helicopters from NATO members, Afghanistan would need assistance in maintaining the operational Russian rotorcraft.
Foreign countries, including some Eastern European NATO members, currently provide maintenance services to Afghanistan, as they also use Soviet-made helicopters and are experienced in maintaining them.
The so-called helicopter package, which stipulated NATO’s purchases of Russian helicopters for Afghanistan through a special trust fund, was one of the main areas of cooperation between Russia and NATO until the alliance froze the project in 2014.