Russia’s Su-30 Fighters Escort US’ Recon Aircraft While Pentagon Promises To Refurbish Russian-Origin Mi-17s For Afghan Forces

A Russian Su-30 fighter jet on Tuesday escorted US Air Force reconnaissance aircraft near the Russian airspace over the Black Sea, Russia’s National Center for Defense Management said.

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The radars located an air target over the Black Sea approaching the Russian airspace, the center said. The Su-30 jet took off to identify the target and prevent it from entering the country’s airspace.

“The crew of the Russian fighter identified the aerial target as the US Air Force EP-3E Ares electronic warfare aircraft and escorted it. After the foreign military aircraft turned away from the state border, the Russian fighter safely returned to the home airfield,” the center said.

In another news, the US will beef up the Afghanistan Air Force with 37 Black Hawk helicopters and help to refurbish a large part of its fleet of Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters, the Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

“We are going to be giving them another 37 Blackhawk helicopters. That is more than they have right now, so in effect doubling their attack helicopter capability… And we have agreed to help refurbish… a good part of their fleet of Mi-17 helicopters,” Kirby said during a briefing.

The US will also be giving to the Afghan military three more Super Tucano strike airplanes increasing their military edge over the opposition forces.

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“They have a robust Air Force, the Taliban does not. And they can use that Air Force in a strike capacity in support of their troops on the ground,” Kirby said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations and humanitarian partners continue to work in Afghanistan, but the ongoing military hostilities interrupt their activities and the delivery of aid, UN Deputy Special Representative Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov told Sputnik.

“We continue our work in Afghanistan, but military action does not help to ensure uninterrupted delivery of supplies and smooth operations,” Alakbarov said. “Nevertheless, international NGOs and the United Nations continue to be present in Afghanistan and provide humanitarian assistance practically throughout the entire territory of the country.”

Alakbarov said humanitarian agencies in the Islamic Republic have seen the deterioration of access and worsened security situation due to the mining of territories and the increased incidence of attack on aid workers.

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“In the first half of 2021, 25 humanitarian workers were killed, 63 were injured and 83 were arrested,” Alakbarov said. “In the first six months, we had 1,120 incidents related to humanitarian access, while in 2020, there were only 1,095 such incidents. In June alone, we had 259 such incidents.”

The UN official attributed the worsening of the security environment for humanitarian actors in Afghanistan to the US troops’ withdrawal, among other reasons.

Afghanistan is seeing a spike in violence from the Taliban as international troops are gradually being withdrawn from the country.

The troop pullout was one of the points of agreement the Taliban and the United States reached in Doha in February of last year. In early July, the Pentagon said that the US had withdrawn over 90% of the US military personnel and equipment from Afghanistan.