US SENATORS CALL FOR END TO RUSSIAN HELICOPTER DEAL
- The US Department of Defense should drop a $900 million contract with Russian arms sales company Rosoboronexport to supply helicopters to Afghanistan's forces, if Moscow continues to arm the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, 17 senators have said in a statement sent to Pentagon head Leon Panetta, RIA Novosti reported, citing the Foreign Policy Journal.
"I am concerned that the US Army is listed among the clients of Rosoboronexport. The United States has many alternative places to purchase helicopters, should we be rewarding Russia for its actions on Syria by buying their Mi-17s?" Senator John Cornyn said at a hearing on Thursday.
Cornyn and another senator, Dick Durbin, are the authors of the statement.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno pointed out in response, "there are no other options to meet the operational needs of the Afghan security forces. They are familiar with these helicopters and we are told that the Mi-17 is absolutely necessary to maintain the viability of the Afghan security forces."
The Mi-8 and its uprated successor, the Mi-17 were used in great numbers by the Soviet Union during its war in Afghanistan, and by its client regime there. Many were left in the country after the Soviet withdrawal and used by the forces of the Mujahideen groups and the Taliban.
The most widely produced helicopter in history, the Mi-8/17 has earned a reputation for reliability and strength and is popular with the forces of many third-world nations. Britain has been involved in training aircrew for the Mi-17 for the nascent Afghanistan armed forces.
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- 1261 Treaty between the Byzantine Emperor Michael and the traders of Geneva (Italy). The successful Armenian traders of Smyrna are first mentioned in this treaty.
- 1797 Agha-Muhammad occupies Shooshee but is later killed there.
- 1809 The English-Persian agreement is signed. England promises to help Persia during the Russian-Persian war.
- 1817 Birth of Kerovbe Apenian in Constantinople, researcher of Classical Armenian, philologist, linguist, clergyman and member of the Mkhitarist Congregation.
- 1823 The Turkish-Persian reconciliation treaty was signed in Karin (Erzroom, Western Armenia). Bayazet is again ceded to Turkey.
- 1837 Senator Gun comes to Transcaucasia to examine the situation and to develop an outline for reforms.
- 1864 Birth of National ethnologist, archeologist, and ethnolinguist Yervand Lalayan in Gyoomree (formerly Alexandropol then Leninakan). He founded Armenian Ethnological Society and its museum.
- 1876 Birth of Aram Zardaryan in Sebastia. He was active in the American workers' movement. His remains were moved from the USA to Yerevan and laid in the City Pantheon.
- 1897 Birth of Yeghisheh Charents (writer) in Ghars (Western Armenia). He was murdered in 1937 by the Soviet Secret Police.
- 1907 Birth of engineer Sargis Tevosyan in Davalu (Ararat Region). He played a vital role in the development of Armenia's chemical industry. Kirovakan's Chemical College is named after him.
- 1955 Death of Dr. Artashes Abeghian.
- 1959 Death of Ashot Ter - Mkrtchyan, professor, mathematician, and mechanical engineer. He was prominent in science and technology.
- 1989 James Balyan was the first Armenian who flew in space on the "Discovery" spaceship. He was a doctor of medical sciences.