Opposition by U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and bipartisan swath of Congress to Defense Department dealings with the Russian arms export agency Rosoboronexport helped block the purchase of helicopters bound for Afghanistan’s national security forces.

Ellison’s office on Monday hailed last week’s Pentagon decision to cancel the purchase of 15 additional Russian-built Mi-17 helicopters from Rosoboronexport, which has supplied Syrian President Bashar Assad's military forces.

The cargo helicopters were to be purchased next year. Both Minnesota Democrats were both on a congressional letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in July questioning the deal because of the agency’s ties to the Assad regime.

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