US defence department officials have reportedly asked to stop buying Russian MI-17 helicopters for Afghan forces and instead to buy American helicopters.
In addition, a number of senators also reportedly asked why the U.S should use American taxpayers’ money to pay Russia for the hardware when it was backing Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria.
“In the face of Russia’s attempts to undermine our foreign policy goals in the Middle East and its continuing aggression in Ukraine, it is a time that the United States ends its reliance on Russian-made helicopters for operations in Afghanistan,” said US congresswoman Rosa DeLauro.
However, it is believed that the US may have taken the decision amid deteriorating relations betweenWashington and Moscow.
“Perhaps this is because the relationship between Washington and Moscow is worsening now and that U.S wants to stop buying helicopters from Russia. But the issue is that based on the security agreement between Afghanistan and the U.S, America must equip Afghan forces,” said a member of parliament Daud Kalakani,.
Meanwhile, the Afghan ministry of defence (MoD) has said that Afghan forces are using MI17 and MI20 Russian helicopters provided by the US.
“It is not important whether helicopters are bought from Russia, America or anywhere else. We want to have the helicopters that back up our land forces,” said deputy spokesman for MoD Mohammad Radmanesh.