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2 Oct, 2008 15:00

Russia won't deal with Ukrainian back-alley politicians

Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, has denounced Ukrainian arms supplies to Georgia during his joint conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Timoshenko.

“A few years ago one could hardly think that once Russians and Ukrainians would be carrying war on each other, and this is a crime,” Putin stated.

Putin also noted that weapons supply to the zone of the Caucasian conflict could be a purely commercial matter if the weapons were not used for killing of Russian citizens and peacekeepers.

Timoshenko ducks her own accusations

Earlier, the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Yulia Timoshenko, said her government has information that Ukraine is involved in the illegal arms trade. The statement came after conflicting reports about the final destination of 'Faina', the cargo ship that was transporting Ukrainian T-72 tanks to either Kenya or Sudan when it was captured by pirates.

However, later Timoshenko slightly changed her point.

“We can speak about such facts only if they are proved and confirmed,” she said before adding: “But I think they won’t be confirmed.”

Ukraine’s arms laundry list

The Russian newspaper Izvestia has published a list of Ukrainian arms supplied to Georgia over the last 10 years. The newspaper says the list was compiled by the Ukrainian Parliament’s investigative commission.

Rocket ship “Tbilisi”
2 Patrol boats
10 L-29 Dolphin trainer and transport aircraft

13 BTR-80 armoured personnel carriers (APC)
28 BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles
6 2S7 Pion self-propelled artillery guns (Nato designation M-1975)

16 T-72 tanks
12 APCs
6 2S7 Pion self-propelled artillery guns (Nato designation M-1975)
6 Mi-24 ‘flying tank’ helicopters (Nato designation Mil-24 Hind)
2 Mi-8MT multi-purpose helicopters

June 2007
6 9K27M1 Buk-M1 air defence rocket systems (Nato designation SA-11 Gadfly)
48 9M33M3 guided air defence missiles
1 9M33M3-UD guided air defence missile
6 9M33M30GVM guided air defence missiles
150 to 200 air defence missile systems Strela and Igla (Nato designation SA-14 Gremlin and SA-18 Grouse)

August 2007
12 T-72 tanks with repair kits

4 9K33 Osa air defence systems (Nato designation SA-8)
2 2K12 Kub air defence systems (Nato designation SA-6 Gainful)
2 2K11 Krug air defence systems (Nato designation SA-4 Ganef)

December 2007
T-72B tank with Kontakt reactive armour
3 Pion self-propelled artillery guns (Nato designation M-1975)

April 2007
T-72B tank with Kontakt reactive armour
T-72BK tank with Kontakt reactive armour (command version)

April 2007
2 BTR-70 armoured personnel carriers

June 2008
2 9A22BMZ vehicles for Osa air defence system

Shady deals and awkward questions

Remarkably, the seven Buk-M1 air defence systems that Ukraine sold to Georgia make for almost half of Ukraine’s total arsenal. The head of Ukrspetseksport company, Ukraine’s primary arms exporter, reported to President Yushchenko that without the Buks on duty several vital positions in the country would be defenceless in the event of attack. The President gave the deal the green light anyway, Izvestia says.

Shkval upgrade for BMP-1 vehicles is the latest development and is still being tested. The Ukrainian army doesn’t have them yet.

The price of the supplies has also stirred controversy. The Ukrainian news website segodnya.ua says the Buk-M1 missile systems were sold for $US 28 million each, while Pakistan offered $US 150 million for just one four years ago. T-70 tanks were sold for a quarter of their market price of $US 1 million.

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