The Financial Times ran a story the other day about NATO and EU countries pushing for better traceability of weapons they have supplied to Ukraine because of fears that they are being smuggled out of the country into the European black market. And Congresswoman Victoria Spartz called for proper oversight of shipments "so we don't have to look for our weapons in Syria or Mexico." Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov commented on this information.
So is there smuggling?
In an interview with the Financial Times, Reznikov assured that Ukraine is interested in keeping all the weapons it has received: "We need to survive. We have no reason to smuggle weapons out of Ukraine.".
According to him, Ukraine uses NATO software, which it received in 2019, to monitor the movement of weapons. And NATO members can access it. In addition, Ukraine wants to expand its use from the central level to the brigade and maybe battalion level, and is developing two other tracking systems that will work in parallel with the NATO software.
In addition, heavy weapons such as 155mm howitzers and missile systems are equipped with GPS trackers - and Western military satellites can track them. As for the portable weapons (for example, Stinger MANPADS and light kamikaze drones), though they have no tracking systems, they are used by special forces - and, therefore, are under strict control.
Reznikov admitted that arms smuggling is not "absolutely impossible," but so far Europol has not notified the Ukrainian government or customs about specific cases. Arms have only left Ukraine twice: a howitzer was sent to Europe for repairs, as well as burned Russian equipment for an exhibition in European capitals.
He also said that some allies have sent military representatives to Ukraine to monitor the flow of weapons and invited other countries to follow suit.
"I discuss it with partners, I discuss it with other defense ministers -- do they have concerns? They say no," Alexei Reznikov stressed.
Indeed, the U.S. Defense Department also commented and said it does not track weapons, but is confident that all military aid is used only to defend against Russian aggression.
"We don't track weapons. And frankly, we're confident that the Ukrainians are [correctly] using the weapons that we've provided them, and we haven't seen any indication that those weapons have been directed anywhere else but to fight the Russians," a senior Pentagon official concluded.
Source: Financial Times, U.S. Department of Defense
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