Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Russia to compete for Afghan helicopter supply tender

Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport is preparing to compete for a U.S. tender to supply Mi-17 helicopters to Afghanistan, the company's deputy general director Alexander Mikheyev said on Wednesday.

In late May, the United States lifted sanctions against Rosoboronexport blacklisting it from tendering for U.S. arms deals.

The sanctions were imposed in 2006 after the U.S. government accused Rosoboronexport of violating the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Despite the ban, dozens of Mi-17s have been bought by the United States for Afghanistan and Iraq over the past four years via intermediary entities as commercial items, thus avoiding direct work with Rosoboronexport.

Mikheyev said U.S. companies equipping Afghanistan's military had shown considerable interest in Russian military hardware, especially helicopters.

"I think that since the sanctions [against Rosoboronexport] have been lifted something must change in relations with U.S. companies," Mikheyev said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told an International Conference on Afghanistan in Kabul on Tuesday that Russia would continue to equip Afghanistan's military and police.

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