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Russia to Supply Afghan Army

Associated Press
Monday, October 10, 2005

MOSCOW, Oct. 9 -- Russia will supply Afghanistan's fledgling army with helicopters and equipment worth $30 million, the Interfax news agency reported Sunday.

Russia will provide the Afghan army with four helicopters and dozens of vehicles as well as communications and other equipment, Interfax quoted the head of the military's international cooperation department, Gen. Anatoly Mazurkevich, as saying during a visit to Portugal with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.

Mazurkevich said that the aid would not include weapons or ammunition, and that Russia has provided about $100 million in military equipment to Afghanistan in recent years.

Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 after a nearly decade-long conflict launched to support the country's communist government. Russia later supported opponents of the hard-line Taliban leadership, which was ousted by a U.S.-led offensive in 2001, less than a month after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

The United States is leading efforts to develop Afghanistan's army, still fighting Taliban-led rebels who have stepped up their attacks this year. Afghanistan's army and police are aided by about 20,000 U.S.-led coalition troops and an 11,000-member NATO peacekeeping force.

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