Pentagon stops buying Russian helicopters because of Assad

14 November 2013 12:24
(QHA) - The Pentagon no longer will buy Russian helicopters for the Afghan Air Force from Rosoboronexport, a state-owned arms exporter that also sells weapons to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, U.S. defense officials and a leading Senate opponent of such deals said on Wednesday, according to Al Arabiya. The switch in Pentagon policy appears to end, at least for now, its plans to buy an additional 15 Russian Mi-17 helicopters for $345 million, sources familiar with the matter said. “I applaud the Defense Department’s decision to finally cancel its plan to buy additional helicopters from Rosoboronexport,” Senator John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said in a statement. “Doing business with the supplier of these helicopters has been a morally bankrupt policy, and as a nation, we should no longer be subsidizing Assad’s war crimes,” Cornyn said. As reports, The Pentagon had planned to purchase 63 new Mi-17s from Rosoboronexport for nearly $1.1 billion, defense officials told Congress in August. It is unclear how many of those 63 have been delivered. Senior Pentagon officials had previously defended the deals with Rosoboronexport - which were to total $1.1 billion over several years - as the fastest way to outfit the Afghan Air Force before most U.S. troops leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.