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Russia to fulfil deal on chopper delivery to Afghanistan despite strain with West

Russia always did, does and will do everything to honor the country’s liabilities under the contract, says Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Alexander Fomin

MOSCOW, March 31. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia will fulfil the country’s liabilities on a contract with the United States over delivery of 30 helicopter gunships Mil Mi-17 for Afghan army despite US statements over suspension of military ties with Russia and possible sanctions against Russian defense industry, Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Alexander Fomin told ITAR-TASS on Monday.

“Russia always did, does and will do everything to honor the country’s liabilities under the contract. Certainly, they put a spoke in wheel, hamper us, but we do not stop the process, we continue to fulfil this contract strictly in compliance with our liabilities as well as in all other spheres,” he said

“In this respect, we do not respond to any threats and believe that common sense and goodwill of our partners will take the upper hand over time-serving emotional outburst,” he noted.

The United States has earlier announced suspension of military cooperation with Russia. Then US President Barack Obama signed an executive decree which envisages possible sanctions against people and organizations working in the Russian defense industrial sector. This document also permits taking punitive measures against any people and institutions supporting Russian governmental officials. US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said later that following the country’s Department of Commerce the US foreign political agency has imposed restrictions on sale of military and dual-purpose produce to Russia. The US has also suspended issue of licenses which authorize export of military products and services to Russia.

Late in last February a representative of the Russian defense industrial sector told ITAR-TASs that Russia had supplied six military transport helicopters Mi-17V5 in Afghanistan under the contract with the US for delivery of 30 choppers of this type. Russia’s Kazan-based helicopter-building plant which is named as the chief party to execute the contract for delivery of 30 helicopters Mi-17V-5 to US ground forces produces the second batch of six machines of this type. Other helicopters will be delivered in consignments by six choppers each under the contract in the course of 2014.

Thirty-nine Russian helicopters Mi-17V5 have been supplied to Afghanistan so far. The main contract for delivery of 21 helicopters was signed between Russian main arms exporting company Rosoboronexport and the US government on May 26, 2011 and was fulfilled in the middle of 2012. In 2013 Russia has finalized supplies of 12 helicopters Mi-17V5 under an additional agreement concluded with the US government a year before within an option of the main contract.

In the previous year Rosoboronexport and the U.S. government have signed a new large-scale agreement for delivery of an additional batch of 30 helicopter gunships in 2014. All in all, 63 helicopters Mi-17V5 worth 1.333 billion dollars were brought for Afghan army within joint effort in the fight against international terrorism under bilateral deals. All helicopters are equipped with night vision devices.

Mi-17V5 is a modern modification of helicopter gunships Mi-8/17 developed by the design bureau of Mil Moscow helicopter-building plant jointly with Kazan-based helicopter maker with due account of experience of combat use of its predecessors in different armed conflicts, including Afghanistan. More than 2,400 helicopters Mi-8/17 are in use in more than 80 countries.