India’s membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has increased Indo-Russian cooperation on Afghanistan, said Russia’s new envoy to India Nikolay Kudashev. Reacting to a story in The Hindu about an Indian proposal to buy Russian-made second-hand Mi-35 helicopters, Mr. Kudashev said it was “imperative” to improve the capabilities of the Afghanistan air force in order to combat terrorism.
“It is the vital task of the international community to continue to support the Afghan government and, particularly, the army and security forces in their fight against terrorism. Enhancing air capabilities of the ADF (Afghan Defence Forces) is one of the most important imperatives in this regard,” Mr. Kudashev said, replying to a question about the plan, which involves procuring the Mi-35 attack helicopters off the shelf from East European countries like Serbia and Ukraine for use by the Afghan National Security Defence Forces (ANSDF).
The batch of helicopters would replace seven helicopters, including 4 Mi-25/35s and 3 ‘Cheetal’ utility helicopters that the Indian Air Force had transferred from its own hardware inventory. Those helicopters, that were transferred in 2015-2016, are now in need of repairs and have been grounded, officials said. The Ambassador did not respond to a specific question on whether Russia would clear spare parts for the helicopters as well as permission for their maintenance and restoration, for which a request has been pending.
Source: The Hindu