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Hungary Eyes Russian Helicopters Despite Sanctions

January 21, 2016 (Photo Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

WARSAW — In a bid to counterbalance the sanctions placed on the Russian economy by the European Union, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has invited Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to a meeting in Moscow next month. Some of the topics to be discussed include plans by Hungary to purchase up to 30 helicopters from Russia, reports local daily Nepszabadsag.

The potential acquisition is estimated to be worth up to 142 billion forint (US $490 million), a Moscow-based source close to the deal told the daily. The contract could pave the way for further military procurements to the Hungarian Armed Forces by Russia’s predominantly state-owned defense industry.

The latest announcement comes at a time when numerous Eastern European allies have intensified their efforts to replace their Soviet-designed aircraft with helos and planes made by Western manufacturers. Among the others, copter procurements are underway in Poland and the Czech Republic, while the Bulgarian government aims to replace its fleet of Soviet-designed fighter jets with new aircraft. The three bidders include the US F-16, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and Sweden’s JAS 39 Gripen.

Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and its annexation of the Crimean peninsula is considered as one of the main factors behind these efforts by Eastern European allies, local analysts say.

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