Russian helicopter accidentally fires rocket at onlookers

Russian military helicopters fire during a military exercise at a training ground at the Luzhsky Range, near St. Petersburg, Russia, on Monday. (AP)
Updated 20 September 2017

Russian helicopter accidentally fires rocket at onlookers

MOSCOW: A Russian military helicopter gunship accidentally fired on spectators during war games in western Russia, injuring several people, news reports said Tuesday.
The Russian military acknowledged that a helicopter accidentally fired a rocket during drills, but did not say when and where it happened. It insisted that no one was hurt in the incident.
The video released on the online, RBC and news portals showed a pair of Ka-52 helicopter gunships sweeping low at the Luzhsky range, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of the border with Estonia, during the Zapad (West) 2017 maneuvers. The video showed one of the helicopters firing a rocket that explodes next to a spectator on a parking lot. said Tuesday two people were seriously wounded and two vehicles were destroyed in the incident. It said the accident happened Sunday or Monday, and that the video was provided by an unidentified witness. said the rocket exploded near a crowd of journalists, military experts and foreign military attaches.
It said a preliminary investigation by military officials indicated the incident was caused by a short-circuit in the helicopter’s electric system that resulted in the accidental launch of the rocket. also posted a cockpit video, showing the rocket’s impact.
Both and RBC reported that the incident took place Saturday and say that three people were injured.
Russian President Vladimir Putin accompanied by the top military brass attended the drills at the range on Monday.
The Russian military’s Western Military District acknowledged Tuesday that the video was genuine. It denied that it happened Monday, but didn’t specify when or where the incident in the video took place. It insisted that no one was hurt, and that just one military truck was damaged.
The military said the incident was caused by the failure of the helicopter’s targeting system.
The Zapad 2017 maneuvers, held jointly by Russia and Belarus, got underway Thursday at several firing ranges in both countries and run through Wednesday. The drills have rattled some NATO members, including the Baltic states and Poland, who have criticized an alleged lack of transparency about the war games and questioned Moscow’s intentions.

India and Afghanistan review their strategic partnership

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 20 September 2018

India and Afghanistan review their strategic partnership

  • Afghan, Indian leaders “reviewed and positively assessed the progress of the multi-faceted India-Afghanistan strategic partnership”
  • The two countries also decided “to strengthen connectivity, including through Chabahar port and the air-freight corridor.”

NEW DELHI: India and Afghanistan reviewed bilateral civil and military cooperation during a one day of meetings in  New Delhi on Wednesday.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani held a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which the two sides “reviewed and positively assessed the progress of the multi-faceted India-Afghanistan strategic partnership.”

A press release from the Indian Prime Minister’s office announced after the meeting: “It was agreed to deepen the New Development Partnership in the areas of high impact projects in this field of infrastructure, human resources development and other capacity-building projects in Afghanistan.” 

 The two countries also decided “to strengthen connectivity, including through Chabahar port and the air-freight corridor.”

 “I would like to thank the Indian people for their commitment to Afghanistan's future,” Ghani said in a speech in New Delhi before leaving for Kabul.

“What India-Afghanistan share is deep and binding trust in democratic institutions,” he added.

Modi supported an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace and reconciliation process” and pledged “India's unwavering commitment to support the efforts of the government of Afghanistan to this end, as also for the security and sovereignty of Afghanistan.”

 “Peace with the Taliban is important so that we can concentrate on counter-terrorism. The Taliban is part of Afghan society, ISIS (using another term for the terror group Daesh) is not. We must make that distinction,” Ghani said in his address at the New Delhi-based think tank, India Foundation.

 Commenting on Ghani’s visit, Vishal Chandra of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), a New Delhi-based think tank, said: “The timing of the visit is significant; he has come at a time when the Afghan forces are under great pressure from the Taliban and Daesh.” He added that Ghani was looking for wider regional support in initiatives to stem the rising tide of terrorism.

Talking to Arab News, Chandra underlined that “there is no question of India involving itself militarily in Afghanistan, but it might step up its efforts to ensure that they have better air capability and they don’t have shortage of ammunition. I don’t expect India to supply heavy weaponry.”

Harsh V. Pant, director of the think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) said: “Despite India scaling up its presence in the defence sector, New Delhi’s military presence in Afghanistan is limited.

“The appetite in India for military involvement is very small; there is no consensus about the military footprints New Delhi should have in Afghanistan. But there is a consensus that New Delhi’s security cooperation with Kabul should be extended and should be robust and that is what India is doing.” 

In his book “India’s Afghanistan Muddle” Pant argued that “India cannot evolve its equity in Afghanistan unless some form of military involvement happens.”

Pant told Arab News: “The visit of Ghani at this time is a sign of a certain maturity in the relationship where Afghanistan feels that India should be kept in a loop. The relationship has grown to an extent that two sides are comfortable with each other in sharing assessment about where the political trajectory is going.”