MOSCOW, March 21. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for continuing the Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund project implemented by Russia and NATO member-states in Afghanistan.
“Cooperation should be continued, although our partners from NATO are set to freeze our interaction,” he told a meeting of the Russian Security Council on Friday. “I believe this activity is of interest for all of us.”
“We need to strengthen Afghanistan’s effective government. I ask you not to stop any activity,” Putin said, addressing Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “The government should ensure the relevant financing from the Russian budget.”
Russian partners in the North-Atlantic Alliance froze a whole range of directions of cooperation with the Russia-NATO Council, Lavrov said. “We have a joint project, the so-called helicopter project, jointly financed by Russia and Western partners. It aims to help Afghanistan to repair machines made in the Soviet Union and Russia and train personnel to fly these helicopters and maintain them.”
“The first stage of the project has already taken place, it proved rather successful. Everybody thought it helped the Afghans to strengthen their capabilities in ensuring their wonsecurity,” the diplomat said.
The Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund project of the Russia-NATO Council was officially launched in March 2011 at the council’s ministerial meeting in Berlin. Contributions to the first stage of the project by Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Russia, Turkey and the United States amounted to approximately $23 million.