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Russia, US Both Benefit From New Afghan Helicopter Deal - Pundit

Moscow, 11 August: The participation of Rosoboronexport in the contract for the purchase by the USA of a consignment of Russian Mi-17V5 helicopters for Afghanistan benefits both Russia and the USA, director of the Centre for the Analysis of Global Arms Trade (TsAMTO) Igor Korotchenko told RIA Novosti on Thursday (11 August).

He was commenting on media reports about the 52m-dollar rise in the cost of the contract in view of the participation in it of a Russian state intermediary, namely Rosoboronexport.

On 26 May this year, the Russian Federation and the USA concluded a contract for the sale of 21 Mi-17V5s for the needs of the Afghan Air Force. The cost of the deal was never revealed officially, and the approximate figure of 360m dollars was quoted. The original plan was that civilian versions of Mi-17 helicopters would be sold, and they would then be turned into military ones in the United Arab Emirates.

"Thanks to the contract concluded in a relatively short time span, the USA will receive fully ready Mi-17V5 military helicopters with the possibility of them being repaired and serviced by Russian specialists, rather than a civilian version which would have had to be upgraded and refitted at facilities in third countries. As a rule, they have no specialized personnel, and often not even a licence for this kind of work from the Russian manufacturer," Korotchenko said.

He stressed that Rosoboronexport's policy as a state intermediary in implementing deals with foreign customers for the sale of armaments and military hardware was aimed above all at protecting the interests of the Russian Federation. "One should bear in mind that getting extra profit per unit is one of Rosoboronexport's main objectives. One should therefore probably be pleased about extra funds for the Russian budget instead of worrying about savings to US budget funds. One should not forget that we are talking about money for domestic industrial enterprises," the TsAMTO head pointed out.

In his view, both Russia and the USA are fully satisfied with the terms of the deal. "Who is displeased is above all the DTI company, which hoped to act as an intermediary in the deal but failed," Korotchenko explained.

In the words of the TsAMTO director, the conclusion of the contract between the US Defence Department and Rosoboronexport, the legality and desirability of which was confirmed by the US Government Accountability Office when it rejected DTI's protest, demonstrates that both sides are satisfied with its terms. "Arguably the only party unhappy with this contract is US commercial companies, which hoped to get their percentage as intermediaries but did not. It appears that their views reverberate in the Russian media," Korotchenko told the agency.

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