Is there a threat for weapons sent to Ukraine to be sold on the black market?


Information about the possibility of western weapons being smuggled to the Middle East and Africa by Ukrainians from time to time appears in the media. It’s an argument for those calling to decrease the delivery of arms to Ukraine. Why such a possibility is extremely low in reality and who spreads these opinions – read in our article.


Why the risk is low

To understand the real situation, “The Ukrainian Review” asked Andrii Kharuk, military historian and analyst, about the threat of weapons sent to Ukraine to be sold to the Middle East and Africa.

“In short, it is extremely unlikely, he says. Logistics from Ukraine have been destroyed. The most logical way of such smuggling is by sea, and maritime communications are now operating only for the export of grain, and the ships are inspected by inspectors.”

The Ukrainian military uses various types of weapons, from Soviet to the most modern Western models.

Andrii Kharuk adds: however, it is possible that the Russians will drop some of the trophy weapons of Western origin into Africa or the Middle East in order to blame the Ukrainians.

A political scientist Igor Burkut agrees that the chances of Western arms being smuggled are low. The scientist says he doesn’t see any verifiable facts of the weapon sent to Ukraine becoming contraband. As he noticed, only Russian and pro-Russian mass media reports on this topic, but these are the usual informational and psychological operations carried out during a war with the aim of weakening the enemy.

“No state can completely control corruption in the defense sphere, says Igor Burkut. But if it has help in this sphere from its allies, then the level of corruption can be significantly reduced. It is about the fact that in the case of illegal sales of Western weapons to the Middle East or Africa, American special services will find that out very quickly. So, they will immediately inform the Ukrainian authorities and check whether they have discovered and punished the smugglers. Thus, there is an effective tool of control.”


Weapons monitoring

It’s worth adding, according to the Arms Control Association, on July 19 2022 the parliament of Ukraine created a temporary oversight committee to particularly track the use and reception of arms transferred to the country by international partners.

Among the transferred weapons there are also Soviet samples, for example, comparable to the characteristics of the Soviet-made BMP-2

In addition, the Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security under the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine also announced on August 7 2022 that Brigadier General Gerrick M. Harmon, Senior Defense Official and Defense Attaché of the United States, has been put in charge of overseeing the transfer and use of these weapons by Kyiv. Overall, these and other measures will help Ukraine monitor the use of these weapons and counter Russian allegations and misinformation about lax export controls.


Who spreads such news

Mostly this kind of information we can originally track down to the Russian English-speaking sources, such as TASS, Sputnik etc. These media are financed by Russian government. So, they follow the Russian official policy.

Ukraine needs modern Western weapons, including armored personnel carriers to replace the outdated and battle-damaged Soviet fleet

There is also a news television channel that is especially productive in creating its own original content claiming Ukraine is selling Western weapons on the black market Al Mayadeen. It is based in Beirut and broadcasts worldwide. This channel is commonly known as a media that is controlled by the al-Assad regime in Syria. Syrian authorities are among the few supporting Russia in its invasion of Ukraine together with Belarus, North Korea and Eritrea.

It is also important to remember in this context a statement of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari about the situation, where the war between Russia and Ukraine allows arms and fighters to stream into the Lake Chad region, bolstering the strength of terrorist groups. Russian and pro-Russian media used this statement as proof for selling Western arms on the black market. However, Buhari didn’t specify who was diverting the weapons. Besides, there is no proof that these weapons are Ukrainian, not Russian, or delivered by Russians.

Alina Kuvaldina

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