UKs terrifying Ukraine weapons dilemma laid bare as black market threat exposed

Ukraine: Russian mothers demand justice for sons sent to war

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NATO and EU allies of Ukraine have pushed Kyiv for tighter scrutiny on where exactly weapons donated by Western countries go, and to prevent them resurfacing on the European black market. One Western official told the Financial Times: “All these weapons land in southern Poland, get shipped to the border and then are just divided up into vehicles to cross: trucks, vans, sometimes private cars.”

They added: “And from that moment we go blank on their location and we have no idea where they go, where they are used or even if they stay in the country.”

Dr Marina Miron, of the Centre for Military Ethics at King’s College London, painted a vivid picture of how pumping weapons into Ukraine poses a “huge security dilemma” for the UK and EU.

She explained to that “weapons deliveries to Ukraine carry several risks” to “European internal security”.

She described a “very real possibility” that US, UK and EU-supplied weapons destined for the Ukrainian front lines would “end up on the black market and sold to the highest bidder”.

The weapons could then be “exported to war-torn countries” and wind up “violating any existing weapons embargo”.

Dr Miron said: “Weapons deliveries to Ukraine carry several risks: crossing a possible red line […] but also risks to European internal security which can be affected internally (criminal enterprises/terrorist networks whose capabilities are strengthened through acquisition of modern weaponry) and/or externally (by spill over coming from weak states which receive illicit guns).

“So, in a sense, we’re in a huge security dilemma.”

She added: “Where those weapons end up is difficult to say, but most likely not in the hands of people we would want them to see [them] in!

“It is like adding fuel to the fire.”

Dr Miron described previous conflicts in which Western-supplied weapons to other regions of the world, such as the Middle East and North Africa, have ended up “intensifying the conflict between local groups with a potential spillover into Europe”.

She continued: “In Europe, too, we’ve had a fair share of terrorist attacks, including but not limited to the UK.

“And the aforementioned arms trade did not only concern North Africa and the Middle East, but also European countries.”

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There is a tangled web of illicit arms trading, organised crime, terrorism and human trafficking, Dr Miron explained.

She added: “So, not only does the smuggling make the matter much worse for those who are deployed abroad, but also for the internal security of NATO countries.”

On Thursday, Ukraine appointed a new head of the Specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, filling the position after an EU request.

Oleksandr Klymenko, who previously worked at the country’s national anti-corruption bureau, will take up the mantle two years after his predecessor departed the role.

Andriy Yermak, of President Zelensky’s office, said: “The fight against corruption is a priority for our state, as our investment attractiveness and business freedom depend on its success.”

The bloc’s law enforcement agency, Europol, flagged in April that the Russian invasion of Ukraine had “resulted in the proliferation of a significant number of firearms and explosives in the country”.

The agency called for a “register of weapons and other military materials” leaving the EU for Ukraine as weapons were exchanged and distributed without record within Ukrainian borders.

However, Yuriy Sak, an advisor to Ukraine’s defence minister, Olekseii Reznikov hit back at these suggestions, saying: “Information that Ukraine is becoming a major hub for arms smuggling does not correspond to reality.”

Mr Reznikov echoed these thoughts earlier this month, adding: “We need to survive. We have no reason to smuggle arms out of Ukraine.”

But the defence minister also admitted it was not “absolutely impossible” that weapons supplied to Ukraine were being smuggled back into the bloc.

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