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11.01.2006 General News

Defence Minister appeals to Russia

By GNA upgrade equipment of Ghana the Airforce Accra, Jan. 11, GNA - Defence Minister Kwame Addo-Kufuor on Wednesday appealed to the Russian government to assist the Ghana Air Force to upgrade its equipment, train its pilots and to augment its training needs.

The Minister made the request when a five-man Russian delegation called at his office at the Burma Camp in Accra.

The delegation headed by Major General Alexander Shinshin, Chief of Department of Military Technical Cooperation of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, is in the country to discuss possible areas of military cooperation with Ghana.

Dr Addo-Kufuor recalled the mutual relations between Ghana and Russia since independence, saying till 1966 the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) was dependent on the Soviet Union for military equipment. However, military relations between both countries stalled until August 2005 when the GAF purchased four MI multi-purpose helicopters from Russia.

The Minister, who was in Russia last August, said he was impressed with what he saw there, particularly the air show in Moscow. He said he had seen the quality of Russian aircrafts and that was the motivating factor for seeking her assistance for the revamping of Ghana's Air Force.

Dr Addo-Kufuor told the delegation that it was the Government's desire that cordial relations between both armed forces were restored for the benefit of both countries.

Maj. Gen. Shinshin, who had earlier called on the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of the GAF, Lt. Gen. J. B. Danquah, said the delegation had entered into negotiations with the CDS on the main direction of military cooperation between both countries. He said the delegation's visit to the country was intended to move the relations between both countries to a new level.

Maj. Gen. Shinshin expressed the hope that Russian Air Force equipment would be recommended for Ghana because of the world acclaimed quality of the country's aviation equipment, adding that the delegation would explore the possibility of bringing Russian military hardware to Ghana.

He said one direction of the military cooperation between both countries was to accept GAF's personnel for training in Russia. He said the delegation was also exploring the possibility of attaching Russian military specialists to the GAF to liaise to assess the needs of GAF.

Maj. Gen. Shinshin said an area of interest to Russia was the peacekeeping experience of the GAF, saying, Ghana could assist Russian military personnel by making the Peacekeeping Training Centre available to them.