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Russia may supply attack helicopters to Afghan army — presidential envoy

October 09, 2015, 6:22 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, October 9. /TASS/. Russia may deliver the Mil Mi-35 attack helicopters to the Afghan army, Russian president's special representative for Afghanistan, director of Russian Foreign Ministry’s 2nd Asian countries’ department Zamir Kabulov told the Izvestia daily in an interview on Friday.

"Russia is already providing some assistance to the government forces of Afghanistan in strengthening their combat capability. I mean, first of all, the training of Afghan officers in our military academies. This process has not been stopped," he said. "Not so long ago, a large batch of small arms and ammunition was supplied through the Russian Interior Ministry. And, looking ahead, I would say that Afghanistan will get additional assistance from the same source, in accordance with Russian president’s instructions," Kabulov added. "We hope to sign in October a contract with the Afghan side of the commercial supply of several Mi-35 attack helicopters," he said.

Referring to Kabul’s possible request for making airstrikes by Russia’s aircraft on the positions of the Islamic State [IS] terrorist group in Afghanistan, Kabulov said: "We will not speculate. The government of Afghanistan has not made such a request," believing that "this is not needed yet, it is necessary to continue to strengthen the combat capability of the Afghan army."

In addition, the diplomat said, "There are enough strike aircraft in Afghanistan at several U.S. airbases, which could successfully make such strikes." "They have so much intelligence there - they can get the exact information about the IS concentration places and deliver pinpoint strikes on them, as Russia is doing in Syria," he said.

Answering a question, "Will the prolongation of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan bring benefit?" Kabulov said: "That remains to be seen - whether it will bring benefit or harm, at least after 14 years of their [U.S. forces’] deployment there, we can see the result." According to him, "In 2001, the number of extremists in Afghanistan was zero, and now they have almost taken the lead intending to overthrow the government and seize the country. That’s the result of the presence of the U.S.-NATO military contingent.".

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