Race for weapons for Ukraine

Avatar of Nick John By Nick John Dec24,2023 #Race #Ukraine #Weapons
Race for weapons for Ukraine 4
Race for weapons for Ukraine 4

As the war in eastern Ukraine is shifting in favor of Russia thanks to its superiority in artillery, Kiev tries to seek heavy weapons from its Western allies to level the firepower gap.

Besides Western weapons, Ukraine is also trying to find weapons produced during the Soviet period, which are more familiar to their army.

Moscow is willing to pay a higher price to purchase Soviet-era weapons in countries that are staffing or storing them, in order to prevent Kiev’s access and at the same time strengthen their gradually depleted arsenal.

`If Russia buys all those weapons on the market, Ukraine will have nothing left,` said a former US military official who has participated in many Russian weapons purchases for decades.

A Ukrainian soldier carries an anti-tank weapon near Bakhmut, Donbass region, eastern Ukraine.

At a press conference in Washington last month, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the UK and the US had searched all 23 countries that staffed Soviet-era weapons and equipment to negotiate their purchase and transfer to the Ukrainian army.

`Half of our assistance is determining where those weapons can be found,’` Wallace said.

A spokesman for the British Ministry of Defense refused to share more about Mr. Wallace’s comments.

Last month, brokers in the Czech Republic and Poland finalized a deal on behalf of Ukraine to buy Soviet-era armored vehicles and artillery shells with a Bulgarian supplier.

`We know clearly that this goods will not go to Armenia, but will go to Russia,` this person said.

Brokers say Moscow has threatened some countries that own Soviet-era weapons that they could cut off spare parts supplies and maintenance services if they do not accept such agreements.

`Sometimes you’re not really sure what’s going on,` another Ukrainian lawmaker said.

Ukraine, along with its US and British allies, has repeatedly been late or missed out on such arms deals.

In April, Russia objected to the Pentagon’s proposal to transfer to Ukraine 11 Russian-made Mi-17 military transport helicopters that the US bought to equip the Afghan army in 2011.

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that the move to transfer Mi-17 helicopters to Ukraine `flagrantly violates` basic principles of international law and the terms of the contract between the US and Russia.

`Our embassy in Washington has sent an official request to the US State Department, requesting a clear explanation of why Mi-17 helicopters were transferred to Ukraine without Russia’s consent, which is contrary to the law.`

Russia is the world’s second largest arms exporter after the United States.

Russia appears to be trying to prevent these intermediary companies from supplying weapons to Kiev.

`We received warnings like ‘if you don’t stop buying these things for Ukraine, we won’t do business with you anymore. We will punish you,’` said a former US military official working in the field.

Western arms brokers say Moscow has for years generally not objected when it sold weapons made in Russia or the Soviet Union.

Ukraine itself has sold Russian and Soviet-made weapons to arms brokers and other countries for many years.

In 2014, after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula and conflict flared up in eastern Ukraine, Moscow’s attitude toward selling Russian-made weapons, at least to Ukraine, changed dramatically.

`They have never objected before for any reason,` said Reuben Johnson, a US defense consultant who has worked in Russia and Ukraine for many years.

Race for weapons for Ukraine

Bullets near a road near Makariv, on the outskirts of Kiev, Ukraine.

Accusations about Russia interfering in efforts to purchase weapons for Ukraine have appeared since before Moscow launched its military campaign in the neighboring country at the end of February.

Last year, Czech officials accused Russian military intelligence of being behind the 2014 explosion at a weapons warehouse once supplied to Ukraine.

In 2016, a group of suspects kidnapped a Ukrainian arms procurement official who negotiated an aviation parts deal with India, a major customer of Russian weapons, according to a former defense industry official.

In 2020, Bulgarian prosecutors accused three Russians of poisoning Bulgarian arms trader Emilian Gebrev in 2015 with the nerve agent Novichok.

Russia denies all these accusations.

Gebrev survived the incident, but many `gun drivers` in the international arms industry saw this as a warning signal for those wanting to do business with Kiev.

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