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Philippines Scraps Russian Helicopter Deal Fearing US Sanctions

The Philippine government has canceled an agreement to buy Russian military helicopters due to fears of possible US sanctions, the Associated Press revealed, citing Manila officials.

Former Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told the outlet that he scrapped the 12.7-billion-peso ($227 million) deal to acquire 16 Mi-17 multi-purpose helicopters last month “that was approved by then-President Rodrigo Duterte before their terms in office ended on June 30.”

The deal was signed in November, with the arrival of the first batch of choppers expected in two years.

Lorenzana said that the deal could have led to US sanctions, adding that a similar arrangement with the US could be in the offing.

Manila Risked CATSA Sanctions

Corroborating the former defense secretary’s fears, Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez revealed that Manila risked being sanctioned under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CATSA) if the deal had gone through. 

CATSA is a 2017 US law prohibiting countries from purchasing Russian military hardware.

The deal will now go through a “termination process,” as a contract had been signed. This could elicit Russian protest, the outlet wrote, citing a Philippine military official. The official added, however, that regardless of the Russian reaction, the deal is over.

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