Obama’s Russian Sanctions Could Be ‘Catastrophic’ For American Forces

Posted by: : Paul EbelingPosted on: July 18, 2014 Obama's Russian Sanctions Could Be 'Catastrophic' For American Forces

Obama’s Russian Sanctions Could Be ‘Catastrophic’ For American Forces

A day after US President Barack Hussein Obama announced sanctions on several Russian arms firms over the Ukraine conflict, a top US Marine Corps General warned that a congressional bid to bar dealings with Moscow’s main weapons exporter could be “catastrophic” for American forces.

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, 58 anni, Commander of US  forces in Afghanistan, said 88 Russian helicopters the Pentagon is buying for Afghan security forces are critical for protecting US troops that remain in the country after the end of this year.

Gen. Dunford’s comments to a Senate committee illustrate the fine line the US government walks in imposing sanctions on Russia without compromising its interests or those of its allies. It shows the wide-ranging, and often unintended, consequences of sanctions on specific industries such as defense.

The General’s comments came on the same day as the downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine, killing all 295 persons aboard. Ukraine said the plane was brought down by a Soviet-era air-to-ground missile.

Wednesday, Mr. Obama imposed sanctions on some of Russia’s biggest firms for the 1st time, a move at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s power base by targeting companies closest to him. The ban included 8 arms firms.

Gen. Dunford said the 88 Russian Mi-17 transport helicopters had been purchased for the Afghan air force, with the last deliveries expected this year, and 30 of the helicopters will go to Afghan special operations forces for counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics operations, he said.

“Without the operational reach of the Mi-17, the Afghan forces will not be successful in providing security and stability in Afghanistan, and will not be an effective counter-terrorism partner,” said Gen. Dunford, who has been nominated by Mr. Obama to be the next Commandant of the US Marine Corps.

He also said the decision to reduce the size of the US force in Afghanistan to 9,800 by the end of the year was partly based on the assumption that Afghans would be equipped to provide some security to the remaining US and coalition forces.

“Their ability to do that would be significantly degraded without the Mi-17,” Gen. Dunford said, adding it would have a “catastrophic” effect.

“The reason I used the word ‘catastrophic,’ which I do not think is hyperbole, is because the inability of the Afghans to have the operational reach represented by the Mi-17 will seriously deteriorate their ability to take the fight to the enemy,” the Marine General told lawmakers

“Their inability to take the fight to the enemy actually will put young Americans in harm’s way in Y 2015 and beyond,” Gen Dunford said.

Many US lawmakers are concerned about Russia’s involvement in Syria and later Ukraine, and they have strongly opposed the military’s decision to buy Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan air forces from Rosoboronexport, the state-owned Russian arms exporter.

Defense officials say the Mi-17 is the best choice for Afghanistan because it handles the climate and terrain well and Afghan pilots, air crews and maintenance workers have dealt with the aircraft since the 1980s.

Shifting to more sophisticated US helicopters would require retraining pilots and maintenance workers, delaying the effort to build Afghanistan’s air capacity by several years, officials say.

Rosoboronexport has not been sanctioned by Washington over the Ukraine crisis, but Senators who oppose the helicopter deal have included language in this year’s defense policy bill that would prevent Pentagon dealings with the firm.

Gen. Dunford said that while the helicopters already had been bought, the law would make it hard to buy spare parts to maintain the aircraft. He said he had been able to find no way to maintain the helicopters without dealing with Rosoboronexport.

“My assessment is that that would not be possible,” he said.

Stay tuned…


Paul Ebeling

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Paul Ebeling

Pattern Recognition Analyst, equities, commodities, forex
Paul Ebeling is best known for his work as writer and publisher of “The Red Roadmaster’s Technical Report” on the US Major Market Indices™, a highly-regarded, weekly financial market letter, where he enjoys an international audience among opinion makers, business leaders, and respected organizations. Something of a pioneer in online stock market and commodities discussion and analysis, Ebeling has been online since 1994. He has studied and worked in the global financial and stock markets since 1984.

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