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3 Nov, 2008 16:32

Ukraine ‘continues to arm Georgia’

A parliamentary investigation in Ukraine has found that the country supplied weapons to Georgia prior to Tbilisi's attack on South Ossetia. The investigators say the country now bears a moral responsibility for what happened in South Ossetia.

Ukrainian legislators found that Kiev supplied weapons that outweighed Georgia's defence needs.

The probe was initiated after reports emerged that Ukraine delivered arms to Georgia before the invasion.

On Monday, members the commission investigating arms supplies to Georgia arrived in Tskhinval, the capital of South Ossetia, where they examined devastated parts of the city.

The head of the State Rada’s commission, Valery Konovalyuk, said investigators "pushed for a moratorium on weapons supplies to Georgia to be imposed.

“But the leadership in Ukraine does everything to continue sending arms to Georgia. This causes concern because it affects the situation in the region and can lead to new casualties.”

According Konovalyuk, Ukraine continues to supply arms to Georgia.  

“The commission has information that on September 22, ammunition and artillery systems were delivered to Georgia's port of Batumi from Ukraine's seaports, disguised as humanitarian assistance,” he said.

However, a statement issued by the National Security and Defence Council in Ukraine pointed out that it was not against international law to supply Georgia with weapons. “Georgia was not and is not under sanctions or embargo of the U.N. Security Council, the OSCE, the European Union or other international organizations,” the statement said.

The council also said that Ukraine co-operated with Georgia absolutely transparently, providing all information about its arms exports to the U.N. Register and other international agencies.

But according to Konovalyuk, the State Rada’s commission found no traces of more than $US 1 billion received from arms sales. He said that over the last three years Ukraine had sold $US 2 billion worth of arms, while only $US 840 million reached the state budget.

The five-day armed conflict in early August took hundreds of lives, which were mostly civilian.