Kabul: The Taliban-led government in Afghanistan said that it will speak to American officials about the fate of the Mi-17 choppers which were designated for Kabul but were given to Ukraine instead.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the Islamic Emirate will negotiate with US officials over the 16 Mi-17 helicopters and 17 other pieces of military equipment which the US had allocated for Afghanistan but were given to Ukraine, TOLO News reported.
“First of all, the traitors are those who fled with these helicopters from Afghanistan. Second, we are talking about the fate of them with the Americans and with the country’s where our helicopters are present. We are trying to bring the Afghanistan property back to Afghanistan,” Mujahid was quoted as saying.
According to the US government’s Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the Department of Defense (DOD) on January 19 had notified Congress that it intended to transfer five US-procured former Afghan Mi-17 helicopters that had been undergoing maintenance in Ukraine to the Kiev government.
Ukraine accepted these aircraft on March 11.
“In mid-April, US President Joe Biden announced a military assistance package to Ukraine that included an additional 11 Mi-17 helicopters that had been scheduled for Afghanistan,” SIGAR said in a recent report.
“DOD also transferred nearly 16 million rounds of varied non-standard munitions, originally procured for Afghanistan, to Ukraine,” it added.
Earlier, the Islamic Emirate had also claimed that more than 40 aircraft had flown to the neighbouring Uzbekistan and Tajikistan after the fall of the former Ashraf Ghani government in August 2021, reports TOLO News.
The Taliban had called on the countries to hand over these aircraft to Afghanistan.
Analysts believe that the lack of recognition of the current Taliban regime by the global community could be one of the obstacles for the US to hand over the aircraft to Afghanistan.
“There is a legal aspect, the Islamic Emirate is yet to be recognized by the US and other countries, therefore, the Americans believe that if they had a deal, it was with the former government. So, until the legitimacy of Islamic Emirate is solved, handing over Afghanistan’s property to the Islamic Emirate will face challenges,” said Javid Javid, an Afghan political analyst.