MOSCOW, April 24 (RIA Novosti), Nikita Alentyev – In a frantic attempt to somehow influence Russian foreign policy, Washington is pushing for counterproductive sanctions, Rakesh Krishnan, a journalist and strategic affairs expert, told RIA Novosti Thursday.
“The atmosphere in the US Congress and Senate is highly charged at the moment. Because they can't stop Russia, the Americans are going to make a lot of loud noises and impose meaningless sanctions,” the New Zealand based expert said.
Krishnan’s comments came days after controversy broke out in the US about the planned purchase of Russian helicopters by the Pentagon for Afghan national forces, a deal now at risk in light of the sanctions over Ukraine.
Elaborating on the prospects of further US cooperation with Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport, Krishnan explained that the deal itself had already “had many enemies in the US” before the sanctions were imposed.
“Several American lawmakers were gunning for the deal because in their view Rosoboronexport’s weapons export to Syria and Iran was a hostile action. These lawmakers now have received unexpected support from SIGAR, a US supervisory body, which has also criticized the deal,” he said, adding that the Pentagon, which is calling to postpone sanctions on Rosoboronexport, is “in a tricky situation where they will be seen as sleeping with the enemy if they pursue the deal any further.”
“The decision to equip the Afghan army with Russian helicopters instead of American ones was based on sound military logic – you fight with the best weapons you can,” Krishnan added.
Paul Goon, Head of Test and Evaluation at the independent Australian think tank Airpower Australia, agrees that the Pentagon’s logic to commission Russian Mi-17 helicopters for Afghanistan campaigns is based on common sense.
“They [Mi-17 helicopters] are more suited to the environment and the requirements in Afghanistan. Supportability, robustness and application are key. Given the local high terrain, that particular helicopter has a very good altitude performance. Its suitability and cost-effectiveness meet the need of the Afghanistan campaign,” Goon explained in an interview with RIA Novosti.
The rift between the US Congress and the Pentagon came after a request to postpone sanctions against Rosoboronexport to allow it to fulfill helicopter contracts in Afghanistan. The Pentagon pushed for cooperation with Rosoboronexport, regardless of the US government’s firm commitment to sanction Russia.