A group of US senators have called on President Barack Obama to respond more forcefully to Russia’s annexation of Crimea by canceling the remainder of a $1 billion contract to buy helicopters from Moscow.
Ten senators on Thursday also asked Obama to impose sanctions on Russia’s arms export agency, Rosoboronexport.
Russia’s “illegal invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea” provides an even broader reason to kill the deal, the senators, eight Republicans and two Democrats, wrote in a letter to Obama.
“Rosoboronexport is an arm of the Russian government and a powerful instrument of (Russian President) Vladimir Putin’s increasingly belligerent foreign policy, and it handles more than 80 percent of Russia’s weapons exports,” the senators said.
They described the export agency as “unsavory” because it has supplied Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military forces with arms and ammunition.
Dozens of members of Congress have long pushed for the end of the Pentagon’s contract with Rosoboronexport.
The Pentagon is buying the Russian-made Mi-17 transport helicopters for Afghanistan’s national security forces.
However, US military officials have defended the Mi-17 contract because the helicopter is ideally suited for the Afghans, who are rebuilding their air force and need a reliable and easy-to-operate helicopter for transporting troops throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the US Senate and House of Representatives passed bills on Thursday to provide aid to Ukraine and impose sanctions on Russians !