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09:30 AM, May 17, 2016
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Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha On Mi-17V5 Helicopter, Tanks Shopping Trip to Russia

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Monday that he will discuss purchase of Russian tanks and helicopters to replace army’s ageing military equipment during his visit to Moscow today.

Gen Prayut was quoted as saying by The Bangkok Post that the Russian hardware was an option as Thailand was exploring offers with competitive price tags and qualities from other countries. The final decision will be made by a committee set up by the army.

The army has six Mi-17V5 helicopters from Russia to replace Hueys from the United States. The fleet was delivered in 2011. The same model was mentioned by Gen Prayut after a cabinet meeting on Monday.

The prime minister moved forward this week's cabinet meeting to Monday as he would leave for Russia on a three-day working visit on Tuesday, followed by a summit between Russia and Asean until Friday.

Gen Prayut will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ahead of the summit, held to mark two decades of ties between Russia and the Southeast Asian grouping.

News about Thai interest in Russian armaments surfaced in February. The report quoted an army source as saying in February that China and Ukraine were other possible candidates for Thailand’s tank purchase.

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