The Russian embassy has hit back at reports in the local media that Moscow was demanding around €28million to service a fleet of Russian-made attack helicopters purchased by the Cypriot government.
Last week, Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou and several of his military aides attended the House Defence Committee to request €100m to be used to purchase two Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) from neighbours Israel as well as an additional €28m to be paid to Russia in order to repair and service 11 helicopters in the island’s air fleet.
The request was met with resistance from some MPs – mostly from ruling party Disy – who questioned such “extravagant” spending during a time when thousands of Cypriots were on the poverty line or unemployed.
Local media have claimed that the Russians were demanding €28m in order to service the aircrafts something which the Russian embassy in Nicosia has denied arguing that not only are the facts in the article wrong but that Moscow is doing everything that it can to help repair the helicopters without the Cypriot government having to cough up the money right away.
The announcement also said that payment deadlines had also been relaxed to given the Cypriot government a grace period in order to fulfil its financial obligations towards Moscow – as stated in the contract signed between the two countries.
Cyprus currently has in its possession 11 Mi-35 helicopters which are described by the Russian military as multipurpose transport helicopter for combat missions on day-and-night basis in adverse weather conditions.
They are intended for destruction of enemy armoured vehicles, supporting fire for ground units, landing of troops, evacuation of wounded, as well as cargo transportation in cargo cabin and on external sling.
But the helicopters are in urgent need of repair and maintenance something which is said to be costly even if Moscow is willing to offer a discount as good-will or lax deadline agreements stipulated in the contract signed between the two governments.