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Russia may keep its helicopters in Afghanistan

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AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: In the wake of the US and NATO supply of military helicopters to Afghanistan, Moscow has been searching ways to preserve the use of its helicopters by the Afghan security forces, Russia’s 24 TV channel reported.

After supplying helicopters by the US, Afghanistan has given up dependency on Russian helicopters.

Commenting over the issue, Russian President’s special envoy for military cooperation, Vladimir Kozhin said the Kabul government has pressurized by the US through undiplomatic means to quit dependency on Russian helicopters.

“All the methods and ways of anti-diplomatic pressure were employed to force Afghanistan into making this decision,” the Russian diplomat said.

However, he said Moscow would negotiate the issue with the Afghan government to seek possible ways of preserving the use of Russian helicopters.

“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.

Moreover, Russian Ambassador to Kabul Alexander Matnytsky said Kabul was still interested in Russian helicopters, despite the western countries initiated the rearmament program for the Afghan security forces

On the other hand, Afghanistan’s Acting Defense Minister Tariq Shah Bahrami has earlier said that his country did not need Russian-made helicopters any more since it had started to receive rotorcraft from NATO member countries. Similarly, he said Afghanistan would need assistance in maintaining the operational Russian rotorcraft, despite switching to helicopters from NATO members countries.

The 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 NATO and Russian until the alliance froze the project in 2014. Despite strategic alliance with the US and NATO member countries, Afghan government should make efforts to turn Afghanistan into a center of cooperation, not rivalry between the regional and international powers.