Skip to comments.Russian arms deal divides Congress
Posted on 07/23/2014 12:28:27 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
Congress is deeply divided over whether to kill a contract with a top Russian arms supplier, Rosoboronexport, to provide helicopters and parts to the Afghan air force.
The Defense Department opposes sanctioning the firm, arguing that canceling the contract would damage Afghan forces, just as U.S. troops end their combat mission.
Yet, support for the helicopter contract is a heavy lift, as lawmakers move to sanction Moscow after pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine are believed to have downed a civilian airliner, killing nearly 300. Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) has called for cutting all U.S. government contracts with [Russian President Vladimir] Putins arms dealers.
Rosoboronexport facilitates and funds Putins foreign-policy objectives through the sale of military equipment and technology, Coats told The Hill on Monday.
Taking steps to meaningfully obstruct this agencys work and the revenue it provides the Russian state is among the most effective ways the United States can condemn Putins aggression, he added.
Two Senate panels have already moved measures that would terminate all existing contracts with the arms giant and prevent new deals. The full House has also passed legislation that would do the same.
The Pentagon, though, has already purchased a total of 88 Russian Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan air force, at more than $1 billion.
Defense officials firmly back the program, arguing the helicopter is best suited for Afghanistans rugged terrain and thin altitude and less work for Afghans to keep running than rival-U.S. made systems.
U.S. forces are currently training Afghan pilots and crew on the platform, but are slated to leave the country in 2017, making future contracts for spare parts and maintenance critical.
Defense officials say that blocking the Rosoboronexport deal would have a catastrophic effect on Afghan forces ability to provide security.
Their ability to do that would be significantly degraded without the Mi-17, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, warned lawmakers.
Defense officials fear the helicopter program will be scrapped, unless the full Senate rejects the sanctions and House lawmakers dont insist on its inclusion in a final compromise bill.
The Senate Armed Services Committees defense policy bill included language terminating all existing contracts, and the fiscal 2015 defense budget approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee would prevent future contracts with the arms supplier.
The measure passed the Armed Services panel 15-11, with six Democrats and nine Republicans on board, but both the chairman and the ranking member opposed ending the contract.
That probably is the most contentious issue on this up here. I agree with the chairman on this, said Senate Armed Services ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.). Ive seen some of the pretty extreme and courageous statements made. Whether or not some members up here agree with them is a different matter.
The push to end the Russian helicopter deal has been led by many lawmakers whose states house rival firms that hope to supply the Afghan military.
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D) two of the top advocates in Congress for ending the Russian contract have touted helicopters from Sikorsky, a local company, as a replacement supplier. Another possible supplier at one point included Boeings Chinook.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who voted for the ending the contract, expressed some regret but blamed the Pentagon for being unwilling to change their minds earlier.
The Defense Department made up its mind early, was rock solid on it, refused to listen to any other suggestions about it. And now weve had Russia invading the Crimea, he said at a July 10 hearing.
And so, I personally am not very pleased with that decision.
But it may be too late to reverse that decision, he said.
We should practice what we preach and cut the contract. If the Euroweenies are to be expected to place sanctions that will also harm their own interests, we must also reciprocate.
I have yet to hear of any rational explanation of why they would have intentionally shot down an uninvolved passenger plane.
It’s obvious it was an accident.
Both Ukraine (2001)and the USA (1988) have accidentally shot down commercial passenger planes in the past.
It would have been easy and common sense to simply overflying the warzone where military planes had recently been shot down.
A really small portion of Ukraine.
Is it really in the USA interest to sabotage our own troops over an accident?
It would have been easy and common sense to simply *avoid* overflying the small warzone, I meant to say.
They’re doing that now, they should have before.
Even the Malaysian air crew protested the flight route before the accident, some changed shifts for exactly this reason.
Most airlines avoided direct overflights of the warzone by policy.
How can the US impose sanctions on Russia and it’s companies and then let a deal like this slide through —
Oh yeah, and since some of the more unhinged freepers accuse me of being evil because I think it was an accident...
Just yesterday US intelligence officials said this:
“The intelligence officials said the most likely explanation for the downing was that the rebels made a mistake. “
There should never have been any contracts with Russian firms in the first place.
Why are we helping to prop up this terrorist Russian govt?
They are invading countries and rebuilding the Russian empire, and revamping their military to be more effective in killing us and countering us in any conflict and war theater possibilities and we want to assist them, NUTS!
Hypothesis on another site: There was a Ukranian fighter close to the passenger plane, and that’s what the missile operators picked up on. The cowards were using the passenger plane as cover. It’s interesting that two Ukranian warplanes have been shot down since the accident. It adds some credence that they were vulnerable without cover.
Yea some Russian finger slipped accidentally and shot that Russian missile downing the Malaysian passenger jet, killing 295 civilians. Just like the Russian BUK missile unit accidentally was transported across the Russian border into Ukraine and into the hands of the Russian terrorists who have accidentally invaded Ukraine and accidentally have killed scores of Ukrainians.
And now that BUK has accidentally disappeared back across the Russian border. Accident my ungullible arse!
from the Christian science Monitor:
“The deal looked sketchy from the start.
To outfit Afghanistan’s security forces with new helicopters, the Pentagon bypassed U.S. companies and turned instead to Moscow for dozens of Russian Mi-17 rotorcraft at a cost of more than $1 billion.
Senior Pentagon officials assured skeptical members of Congress that the Defense Department had made the right call. They repeatedly cited a top-secret 2010 study they said named the Mi-17 as the superior choice.
Turns out the study told a very different story, according to unclassified excerpts obtained by The Associated Press.”
O’bummer to the rescue of Putin!!
Buying Russian Arms for our Allies- yep we are insane!