Of­fi­cials halt he­li­copter or­der from Rus­sian arms agency

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics -

The De­fense Depart­ment is can­cel­ing plans to buy ad­di­tional cargo he­li­copters from the Rus­sian arms ex­port agency that is a top sup­plier of weapons to Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad’s mil­i­tary forces, a lead­ing Se­nate Repub­li­can said Wednes­day.

The ad­di­tional 15 Rus­sian-built Mi17s were to be pur­chased next year at a cost of $345 mil­lion and then de­liv­ered to Afghanistan’s na­tional se­cu­rity forces.

“I ap­plaud the De­fense Depart­ment’s de­ci­sion to can­cel its plan to buy 15 ad­di­tional Mi-17 he­li­copters from Rosoboronex­port,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Repub­li­can.

Bi­par­ti­san op­po­si­tion to the pur­chase of the Mi-17 he­li­copters had been build­ing as the vi­o­lence in Syria es­ca­lated and U.S. re­la­tions with Rus­sia de­te­ri­o­rated. A grow­ing num­ber of law­mak­ers from both po­lit­i­cal par­ties ob­jected to ac­quir­ing mil­i­tary gear from Rosoboronex­port, which has pro­vided Mr. As­sad’s regime with arms and am­mu­ni­tion used against Syr­ian civil­ians.

Sen. Kirsten E. Gil­li­brand says she’s weigh­ing the re­vi­sions to build sup­port for her pro­posal among undecided se­na­tors. The New York Demo­crat is ex­pected to of­fer the plan as an amend­ment to the an­nual de­fense pol­icy bill that the Se­nate will con­sider next week.

Mrs. Gil­li­brand has pushed for re­mov­ing com­man­ders from the process of de­cid­ing whether se­ri­ous crimes, in­clud­ing sex­ual mis­con­duct cases, go to trial.


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