As the fighting with Taliban turns violent, Afghanistan has sought to acquire combat helicopters from Russia.
"We have requested new helicopters from the Russian side to strengthen our Air Force. I am waiting for Russia’s reply on this issue,” Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar said in a live broadcast of the Ekho Moskvy radio station on Thursday.
Taliban forces captured a Mi-35 helicopter gifted to the Afghan military by India on Wednesday. Additional four Mi-8/17 helicopters were reportedly seized today -- two of them were in operational condition while the other two were undergoing maintenance at the time of capture.
Russia is studying Afghanistan's appeal for the supply of helicopters on a commercial basis, Zamir Kabulov, the special envoy of the Russian president, director of the second department of Asia of the Russian Foreign Ministry, told Interfax on Friday.
The Taliban took control of Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city on August 13, making it the militant group’s biggest prize till date. The group has taken at least 15 of the country’s 34 provincial capitals as part of a weeklong blitz.
Clashes between the Taliban and Afghan forces have intensified as foreign militaries, including the US and NATO, are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by August 31.