In 2015, the Polish company has sold Ukraine 59 armored vehicles BRDM-2, only a few months they were in Africa. Experts call it an example of “laundering arms”, and the Polish foreign Ministry said that the deal could be illegal.
The story described the Project experts to expose organized crime and corruption (OCCRP). As described in their report based on internal documents of the Ukrainian company “Tekhimpeks”, the purchase of armored vehicles in Poland was one of the elements of a large-scale scheme of arms exports to Africa, more specifically, in those countries subject to a European embargo on weapons (Sudan and South Sudan).
A seller of cars produced in Soviet technology, was made by Army Trade, a small company from Wielkopolska. In 2014-2015 “Tekhimpeks”, the Ukrainian firm engaged in the manufacture, repair and export of arms, ordered 59 pieces BRDM-2. Or rather, not machines as a whole, and 59 complete sets of parts for them, since the law forbids Ukrainians to buy ready-made military equipment.
In the documents of the deal means that the end user equipment itself will be “Tekhimpeks”. However, according to OCCRP, in February 2016, two months after receiving the first shipment of parts for armored vehicles, “Tekhimpeks” signed a contract for the sale of 37 BRDM-2 (already assembled) Uganda. They got there not directly. Intermediaries in the transaction were the United Arab Emirates and open a UK company is dummy, owned by Ukrainians. Uganda, apparently, was not the final destination of the route. As experts point out, the recipient of the weapons coming to Uganda, often southern Sudan, where last three years ongoing bloody civil war. In this country the effect of the embargo on arms supplies, which was joined by Ukraine.
“The situation is interesting. This is exactly the type of contracts that can be locked with the help of European and national surveillance systems for export”, — said the employee of the Stockholm Institute for peace studies (SIPRI) Simon Wezeman (Siemon Wezeman).
Although the initiator of the procedure, which OCCRP calls “money-weapons”, were the Ukraine, questions also arise about the Polish stage of the transaction. The owner of the company Army Trade Usewick Krzysztof (Krzysztof Jóźwik), he says, was sure that the end user equipment performs the Ukraine. However, according to Wezeman, the agreement from the beginning was to cause suspicions of Polish authorities.
“Ukraine, of course, there is a war, there need weapons, but there is good reason to believe that “inherited” from the USSR Ukrainians got quite a lot of BRDM-2 and spare parts to them, so the import of this equipment they don’t need. Moreover, an alarming signal was the fact that side deals were made by a Ukrainian company and not directly by the army. Although, in fairness, it should be noted that “Tekhimpeks” sometimes buys equipment for the Ukrainian armed forces. It was a complex situation, but in connection with the above circumstances, the Polish government had to show to it special attention,” — said the expert.
What did the Polish government body? It’s hard to tell. The OCCRP article quoted the press Secretary of the foreign Ministry, which said that 2014 and 2015 the authority has not issued licences for the export of BRDM-2 or parts thereof, therefore, “the deal could be illegal.” The owner of the Army Trade in an interview with Wirtualna Polska rejects these accusations. “If the transaction was illegal, I would be with you today was not talk,” — retorted Usewick, refusing, however, to dwell on the circumstances of its conclusion.
The foreign Ministry appealed to the OCCRP staff to provide detailed information about the transaction to its study could deal with the competent authorities. The office has not yet answered the question of our portal about what steps it has taken in this direction.
“I am confident that the Polish intelligence services have information about the case. It is difficult to imagine a state of nothing did not know about it, because the sale of such equipment, the desired relevant documents. Before you get to Ukraine, it passes through two of the customs service, noted in a conversation with Wirtualna Polska intelligence officer of one of the EU countries. In turn, the counterparties in such cases usually know lot of questions you better not ask, especially if all the answers are known in advance.”
The wezeman stressed that this deal illustrates the problem with arms trafficking and second-hand military equipment in Eastern and Central Europe. These weapons sell to third countries, and they usually (without proper documents) to re-sell it on, most often in those regions where it wasn’t supposed to get. The expert recalls, in this context, Sweden, which sold surplus arms of the Czech defense company Excalibur, and that at the same time proposed the same technique to other customers, for example, in Iraq.
Ukraine focus on illegal markets
The OCCRP report and Amnesty International shows that this mechanism often used by Ukrainian firms that buy equipment or its parts in Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary or Romania, and then resell it to countries in the Middle East or Africa. Global leader in arms exports to the African continent is Russia, however, on account of the Ukrainians also have a lot of suspicious or illicit transactions. Their customers are most likely to be of African countries, including Libya and South Sudan.
In 2008 there was a significant story: Somali pirates seized the ship, sailing under the flag of Belize, on Board of which were the Ukrainian rocket-propelled grenades. Officially, the weapons were meant for Kenya, but it was clear that in fact the goods carried to southern Sudan, which at the time was not yet an independent state. However, this case is not unique. Previously, there were sent T-72 tanks and multiple rocket launchers “Grad”. However, not all the equipment reached the goal.
Apparently, after the revolution of 2014, the situation has not changed. An investigation by the Commission of the UN security Council showed that, although Ukraine joined the European embargo it until at least 2016 supplied weapons (including helicopters Mi-24) one of the parties to the conflict in South Sudan. The embargo imposed in 2014 to limit the warring to representatives of the peoples of Nuer and Dinka weapons. The civil war in southern Sudan has been ongoing for almost four years, it claimed the lives of 300 thousands of civilians. In addition, I wrote our portal, this conflict has caused one of the biggest humanitarian crises in Africa.
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