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Russian Helicopters Holding Company issued public statements on 8 December accusing “Ukrainian aircraft repair enterprises [of] carrying out illegitimate overhaul of Mi-17V-5 helicopters and thereby [endangering] the lives of the American and Afghan soldiers that are operating these helicopters.”

This follows a flurry of animated discussion in the Russian-language media earlier in the month and appears to be based on the arrival of two Afghan Air Force Mi-17V-5s in Ukraine for overhaul and maintenance by Motor Sich and Aviakon. The Russian company “disclaims all responsibility for further safe operation of mentioned helicopters and has every reason to deny services related to maintenance of these helicopters.”

Fundamentally, the RH objection is ostensibly centred on the fact that neither Ukrainian company has been authorised or certified for the current model of the Mi-17: and that is certainly true, albeit hardly surprising, given the parlous state of political and economic relations between Russia and Ukraine since the former’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. However, both companies have gained significant experience with the type over the last several decades and Russian Helicopters has, according to sources available to MON, not made any former complaint about their competence or skillsets.

Observers of the scene in Ukraine firmly believe the complaint to be a ‘soft power’ move inspired by the Russian state. MON will seek additional information in pursuit of the reality behind the move.

An example of the widely exported Mi-17. (Photo: Rostec)

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