OCCRP claims Ukraine involved in illegal arms sales
The international journalist organization Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has claimed Ukraine is involved in a network that is illegally re-exporting arms from EU countries to Africa and the Middle East.
At the heart of the export network is a loophole in Ukraine's regulations that allows for the origins and destinations of weapons "to be erased from documents as the arms move around the world."
According to OCCRP investigators, Ukrainian arms manufactures Ukrinmash and Techimpex, along with the British S-Profit company and Polish Army Trade were involved in a re-export scheme of Soviet armored vehicles (BRDM-2) from Poland to South Sudan banned under EU legislation from 2014 to 2016.
"South Sudan is under an EU arms embargo, making sales to the country by member states illegal," OCCRP says, adding "A UN Security Council panel set up to monitor the embargo has found that Ukrainian firms have sold millions of dollars' worth of attack helicopters and jets to South Sudan's government since the outbreak of the war, with Uganda used as a waypoint."
The Amnesty International human rights group on Monday issued a report saying Ukraine's state-owned Ukrinmash arms producer violated a United Nations arms embargo and in 2014 signed a contract with the United Arab Emirates to supply $170 million worth of artillery and small arms, including machine guns, mortars, rocket launcher and ammunition to South Sudan.
As well as the South Sudan deal, documents seen by Amnesty International show a sequence of commercial offers and contract negotiations involving S-Profit Ltd – some unfinished – for the prospective supply of armored vehicles, weapons and aircraft to Egypt, Senegal, Mali, Rwanda, Ukraine and Peru, as well as to private companies in Serbia, Ukraine, Poland and Australia. Amnesty International has been unable to identify UK trade control licenses for any of these negotiations or deals.
Ukrinmash on Monday denied Amnesty International's claims.
"We may confirm that specified Contracts in no way were realized (namely, №5/61-К from 22.10.2014, and IGG/Ukrinmash/2014/1399/5/47), and no movements of goods and services were performed," the company said in a statement posted on its website on September 25.
"The contact was not fulfilled because the State Export Control Service of Ukraine had not given permission," Ukrinmash Director General Serhiy Sliusarenko told Interfax-Ukraine on Monday.
"Despite that the UN Security Council has not imposed an absolute embargo on arms trade with South Sudan, Ukraine and Ukrinmash fully adhere to the declared policy of securing regional and international security and stability," the company said.
Amnesty International has accused Ukraine in the past of illegal arms sales. In 2012 the group said Ukraine had illegally shipped tanks to South Sudan via Kenya.