U.S. Senate ban on Pentagon-Rosoboronexport deals may harm helicopter project - diplomat

Moscow would not like the so-called helicopter project being pursued together with the U.S. to be harmed by the U.S. Senate's injudicious decisions, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told journalists.

"Cooperation between Rosoboronexport and U.S. institutions, which are responsible, inter alia, for the so-called helicopter project, has always been very positive, and we would not like any damage to be inflicted on this cooperation through injudicious and fundamentally harmful attitudes among some of the U.S. senators," Ryabkov said.

"In any case, we are against a policy that presumes sanctions and quasi-sanctions, whatever motives this policy involves and is supported by," he said.

"As for this particular decision [by the U.S. Senate], as I understand, it is an amendment to the bill on the limit of defense expenditures for the next fiscal year in the U.S. This decision has not yet taken effect, because the Senate and the House of Representatives have yet to pass a reconciliation vote on this legislation," Ryabkov said.

"This matter involves voting on the amendment at the Senate. When we see the final product, then we can say more certainly how this all can affect Russian-U.S. interaction in the military-technological area," he said.

The amendment unanimously supported by the Senate members prohibits the Pentagon from concluding any transactions with Rosoboronexport, including buying helicopters for Afghanistan.

Rosoboronexport concluded a $900 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense on supplying 21 Mi-17V5 helicopters to Afghanistan in May 2011.

The contract was successfully completed in June 2012, and the parties signed another contract for 10 more helicopters. U.S. sources estimated the new contract at $171.4 million.

The helicopters being shipped to Afghanistan are adapted for the missions the Afghan army and the U.S. Department of Defense believe they should perform in combating terrorist groups.

It was also reported that a center for maintaining Russian-made helicopters, including Mi-17, Mi-8, and Mi-35, could be built in Afghanistan.

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