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Afghanistan Wants More Russian Helos

By Staff Writer | October 26, 2015
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Afghan and U.S. officials are maneuvering against each other on means of bolstering the south-central Asian nation’s helicopter forces as security conditions there worsen. The Wall Street Journal reports that President Ashraf Ghani has asked Russia to supply his country with Mi-35 gunships (as well as artillery and small arms). It added that U.S. officials are working on options for providing helicopters other than Russia. The U.S. previously had bought Afghanistan Mi-17 transports, but Russia’s 2014 intervention in Ukraine led Congress to ban the Pentagon from dealing with Rosoboronexport on additional helicopter purchases. The last Mi-17s were delivered a year ago. As the U.S. has withdrawn troops from Afghanistan, attacks by the opposition Taliban have increased. The Taliban in late September captured the provincial capital of Kunduz in north Afghanistan, about 150 mi north of the national capital of Kabul, and held it for 15 days. That was widely considered the Taliban’s biggest victory in 14 years of fighting in Afghanistan and contributed to President Barack Obama’s decision Oct. 15 to shelve plans for pulling most remaining U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.

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