NEW DELHI — The commander in charge of US forces in Afghanistan has asked India to step up military aid in the Middle Eastern  Asian country. Gen. John Nicholson's call to action comes as Western sanctions against Russia is leading to a paucity of spares for Russian-made weaponry used by Afghan forces.

Speaking to journalists Wednesday after meeting with India's National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Defence Secretary G.Mohan Kumar, the US Army officer said: "Due to sanctions on Russia, it's difficult to acquire supplies of spare parts for Russian military platforms, because much of the money is given to Afghanistan by donors who have sanctions against Russia in place."

According to Nicholson, there is a large requirement that needs to be fulfilled, especially when it comes to spares for Russian equipment with Afghan forces.

Nitin Mehta, a defense analyst in India, commented on the US approach: "The call for stepping up military aid to Afghanistan is not a changed response of Washington in diplomatic terms, but only in military terms, arising from the sanctions by the Western world on Russia, thereby putting [pulling] the plug on supply of military spares (for Afghanistan)."

India has transferred four Russian-made Mi-25 attack helicopters to the Afghan Air Force, marking the first transfer of lethal military equipment to Afghanistan.

"The Afghans have asked for more of these helicopters. There is an immediate need for more. When these aircraft come in, they immediately get into the fight," Nicholson said. "We are building the Afghan Air Force as a critical component of security. That is built on several airframes. Some are older Russian models, integrating newer ones. We need more aircraft, and we are looking at how we can meet that need."

While no official would provide concrete details of Wednesday's meeting, a source in India's Ministry of External Affairs said that Indo-US cooperation in "helping" Afghanistan was discussed.

Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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