Brussels comments on Ukraine weapons smuggling allegations
A senior EU foreign affairs spokesman appeared to brush aside concerns by member states that weapons supplied to Ukraine were finding their way to the black market. In an interview published on Thursday by a Ukrainian news website, Peter Stano said the EU had “no reason not to trust” Kiev on the matter.
The news outlet, Ukrinform, asked Stano for comments after “speculative assumptions have appeared” in the Western media “over the risk of smuggling the weapons supplied to Ukraine by Western partners.” Ukrinform didn’t specify which articles it was referring to.
But the Financial Times reported on Tuesday that EU member states were concerned over the whereabouts of the arms. The British newspaper said Western nations want Ukraine to have a more robust system for tracking weapons it receives to fight Russia.
“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,” a Western official was cited by the FT as saying. “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.”
Stano told Ukrinform that the EU’s military “assistance is subject to strict controls and safeguards, including after it has been delivered,” and expressed certainty that Kiev was properly handling the arms it receives.
“We have no reason not to trust the Ukrainian Government which is leading a fight to defend the country and the Ukrainian people against a brutal aggressor,” he was cited as saying.
Warnings that arms sent to Ukraine may end up on the black market came from organizations like Interpol, and Europol. Police officials in some nations like Sweden also spoke about the danger posed by arms trafficking from Ukraine.
According to an RT investigation, West-supplied weapons like the NLAW shoulder-fired anti-tank missile or the Switchblade ‘kamikaze drone’ are readily offered by gun smugglers on the Darknet.
The EU official appeared to address the issue by accusing Russia of diverting them.
“Let’s not forget that the weapons deliveries to Ukraine are a potential target of hostile action” by Russia, he stated.
When prompted by the outlet, Stano appeared to dismiss smuggling concerns as nothing more than Russian disinformation.
“Basically anything that comes out of the Kremlin and from the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, is a massive propaganda and very often simply lies,” he claimed.
The EU has so far provided 2 billion euros worth of military aid to Ukraine through the European Peace Facility.