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Concerns About Western Weapons Flowing to Ukraine Growing Louder

Samizdat – 01.11.2022

The US and its allies have earmarked nearly $100 billion in security and economic aid to Ukraine so far this year. Last month, the White House asked Congress for a $11.7 billion top-up. Where is this money going? Who’s benefiting from Western taxpayers’ generosity? And why are some US officials suddenly so concerned?

As the Ukrainian security crisis enters its ninth month and the seemingly bottomless pit of Western military and economic support for Kiev continues to expand, some US media and lawmakers have expressed growing weariness about the prospect of shoveling even more cash into the conflict in the weeks and months to come.

On Monday, the editors of Bloomberg, the New York-based financial and business media empire, sent a signal to America’s business community through a rare collective editorial requesting more “transparency” from the Biden administration about where American aid to Ukraine is going.

“The scale of the aid effort is unprecedented. In just seven months, the US has provided Ukraine with nearly double what it gave all of Western Europe on an annual basis during the Marshall Plan in real terms. Support for Ukraine’s military this year equals what the US provided Israel, Egypt and Afghanistan combined in 2020,” the business outlet stressed, calculating that Washington’s support accounts for $60 billion, or two thirds of all Western support for Kiev this year.

At least $27.5 billion of that is for military needs, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy’s Ukraine Support Tracker.

Pointing out that Kiev hasn’t exactly been a paragon of good governance and anti-corruption, even before the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis, Bloomberg made the unprecedented admission that there’s “the possibility, however slight, that US-made weaponry could fall into the wrong hands or be sold to actors outside Ukraine.” Accordingly, the outlet asked Washington to appoint a special watchdog on Ukraine aid, similar to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction created in 2008.

The effectiveness of such an appointment would be questionable at best, and futile at worst. Last year, Brown University’s Costs of War project calculated that the United States spent over $2 trillion in Afghanistan, equivalent to over $300 million per day for 20 straight years. Still, the effort to turn the war-torn West Asian nation into a model of Western-style governance and democracy collapsed like a house of cards in August 2021, when the Taliban* smashed the country’s NATO-trained army in ten days as US and allied forces evacuated. The inspector general’s appointment seems to have done little in stopping or even stemming the largess of spending on the war in Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, even the mere admission that US arms could destabilize the situation and cause a spike in weapons flows to international black markets and criminal groups is significant, as it echoes concerns that Russian officials from the president to the foreign and defense ministries have been expressing for many months.

“This is not a question only of small arms; there are risks of more powerful weapons falling into the hands of criminals, including man-portable air defense systems and high precision weapons,” President Vladimir Putin said at a recent meeting with regional security officials.

Last month, Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, whose party appears poised to take the House and possibly the Senate in the upcoming midterm elections, expressed opposition to giving Ukraine a never-ending “blank check” of American aid as ordinary Americans suffer the consequences of a recession. President Biden admitted that he was “worried” about McCarthy’s rhetoric, accusing the GOP of not “getting” that Washington’s assistance to Kiev wasn’t about Ukraine, but about Eastern Europe, NATO, and “really serious, serious consequential outcomes.”

As domestic weapons stocks show signs of running low and amid US media reports citing behind-the-scenes grumbling from the military and government over the issue continue to mount, it bears repeating the question about where Western arms support for Ukraine is actually going.

Where are the Weapons Zelensky?

It turns out the White House and the Pentagon don’t actually know where the aid goes, with sources telling US media back in April that the Pentagon has “zero” clue where most of the arms end up after they drop into the “big black hole” of the conflict. This is especially the case with small and compact arms like Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger man-portable air defense missiles, which can’t be tracked via satellites and “with nobody on the ground” to keep a lookout.

From time to time, moments of clarity poke through the fog of war.

On Sunday, Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation reported that weapons sent to Ukraine had somehow found their way into the hands of local motorcycle gangs, as well as criminal groups in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Earlier this year, Sputnik Arabic plunged into the seedy recesses of the so-called dark web, finding a Ukraine-based arms dealer willing to ship US-made M4 assault rifles to the conflict zone in Yemen via Poland and Portugal, for a fee.

Separately, in August, a major US television network posted and then quietly scrubbed an investigative feature which revealed that as little as “30 percent” of the Western military aid sent to Ukraine was actually reaching the frontline.

Some Western-dominated regional and international security cooperation agencies have also given an indication (mostly underreported by the mainstream media) on the danger of sending weapons to Kiev.

Europol, the European Union criminal policing agency subordinated to Brussels, continues to resist admitting the scale of the weapons smuggling problem, assuring in July that it is “working with Ukrainian officials to mitigate the threat of arms trafficking into the European Union” and that it has “full confidence” in Kiev’s “measures to monitor and track these firearms.”

However, Interpol, Europol’s older and more respected cousin, has urged the international community to brace for weapons that have been sent to Ukraine ending up in criminal hands. Agency secretary general Juergen Stock warned in June that “the high availability of weapons during the current conflict will result in the proliferation in illicit arms in the post-conflict phase.” Criminal groups are already preparing. “This will come, I have no doubts,” Stock said.

Given the scale of the Ukrainian crisis, and the shady nature of criminal weapons smugglers’ activities to begin with, the real extent and scope of illicit arms smuggling operations, and just how far up the totem pole of Ukrainian and Western administrative power it goes, has yet to be revealed, and probably won’t be revealed, until years or even decades from now.

During the 1980s Soviet War in Afghanistan, the Central Intelligence Agency ran ‘Operation Cyclone’, a drugs and weapons running operation which armed the Afghan Mujahedeen with over $3 billion in US- and European-made weaponry, including Stinger missiles and other sophisticated equipment.

In the decades that followed, Washington discovered how difficult it is to recover these arms from the Afghan ‘freedom fighters’, who eventually morphed into the Taliban, and fought a two decade-long war against the US and NATO occupation, including using weapons sent in the 1980s. In the meantime, Osama Bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader who served as one of the Arab commanders in Afghanistan in the 1980s, wound up declaring a holy war against the US, with Washington ultimately fingering his terrorist group for the deaths of over 3,000 Americans on 9/11 and in other attacks.

November 1, 2022 - Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , ,

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