Ecuador’s Russian Mi-17 Helicopters Could Interest Ukraine the Most

Among all of Ecuador's Soviet/Russian origin military equipment, the Mi-17 helos are in relatively good condition
  • Bureau
  • 12:05 PM, February 7, 2024
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Ecuador’s Russian Mi-17 Helicopters Could Interest Ukraine the Most
Equador receiving 2 Mi-171E helicopters from Russia in 2011 @Russian MoD

Even after Moscow imposed “banana sanctions’ on Ecuador, the latter has shown no inclination of reversing the supply of “scrap metal” Russian military equipment to Ukraine in exchange for receiving $200 million worth of new gear from the U.S.

While Ecuador has not specified what Soviet/Russian origin equipment it will be handing over to Ukraine, a look at the South American country’s military inventory shows it as having 21 units of BM-21 Grad MRL system, Strela and Igla MANPADS,  10 units of 9K33 low-altitude surface-to-air missile system besides 12 Mi-17-1V and Mi-171E helicopters.

A Russian industry source told that what would interest Ukraine the most are the Mi-17 helicopters- owing to its own depleted inventory and inability to receive new choppers in required numbers from its Western sponsors. Allso, these choppers a relatively recent acquistion with the last 2 Mi-171E helicopters procured in 2011.

Ecuador’s minister of defense had once praised Russian military equipment

In 2011 at a ceremony to receive two Mi-171E helicopters, the then Minister of Defense Javier Ponce said that the Ecuadorian government strives to equip its armed forces with modern technology and are ready to consider purchasing new types of Russian-made weapons that are superior in their characteristics to comparable equipment from other foreign countries.

This is in stark contrast with a statement made by current Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa who said on January 10, "Yes, we have assistance [from the US]. First, we will swap Ukrainian and Russian ‘scrap metal’ for advanced equipment costing $200 million."

Ecuador’s Russian Mi-17 Helicopters Could Interest Ukraine the Most
Indian bananas bound for Russia?

The U.S. plans to procure Soviet/Russian equipment from South American countries and send them to Ukraine.

Commander of the United States Southern Command Laura Richardson said in January 2023 that several South  American countries possess Russian-made weapons which could be swapped for US-made ones if the said countries agree to transfer them to Ukraine.

Ecuador faces a potential loss of up to $754 million per year if Moscow sticks to its ban on import of Ecuadorian bananas and adds roses to it- another agricultural item it imports from the South American country.

Russia is believed to be switching to ordering bananas from India possibly through barter trade thanks to a trade surplus with New Delhi owing to its oil exports to the South Asian nation.

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