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McCain Questions Pentagon Purchases From Sanction-Hit Russian Firm

John McCain, chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, questions Pentagon purchases from a sanction-hit Russian firm.

The chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee is demanding answers from the Pentagon over its purchase of rocket engines from a Russian company for military satellite launches.

Reuters is reporting that Senator John McCain (Republican-Arizona) in a February 10 letter asked Air Force Secretary Deborah James and Pentagon chief arms buyer Frank Kendall to explain why the U.S. government continues to deal with NPO Energomash, the Russian firm that builds Russian RD-180 rocket engines.

McCain questioned the legality of doing business with Energomash, given sanctions against Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and others who now have control over the company after a recent reorganization.

McCain said he wants answers to these questions by February 22.

McCain has frequently aired concerns about what he describes as subsidies to Russian President "Vladimir Putin and his gang of corrupt cronies."

James has urged Congress to allow use of the Russian engines that power the Atlas 5 rocket for several more years until alternatives are available.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Breaking Defense