Ukrainians move US-supplied Stinger missiles at Kiev’s Boryspol Airport. (File photo by AFP)
The Pentagon’s inspector general has revealed that some of the Western-supplied weapons and equipment supplied to Ukrainian forces ended up in the hands of arms traffickers, criminals, and volunteer fighters.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) report entitled “Evaluation of the DoD’s Accountability of Equipment Provided to Ukraine” was cited by several American media outlets on Thursday.
In a highly redacted section of the report, the outlets reported the Pentagon official had provided several examples of Western-supplied hardware ending up in the wrong hands.
Last June, an organized crime group, allegedly overseen by an “unspecified Russian official,” infiltrated a volunteer battalion and stole various weapons, including a grenade launcher and a machine gun, as well as more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
“The perceived intent of the group was to conduct destabilizing activities,” the report said, as cited by Military.com.
The same month, a group of Ukrainian criminals, who were posing as aid workers, snatched $17,000 worth of bulletproof vests provided to Kiev by its allies, the report stated.
It also described an incident in August 2022, when volunteer battalion members stole 60 rifles and almost 1,000 rounds of ammunition, “presumably for sale on the black market.”
All of the above-mentioned plots were uncovered by the Ukrainian security services, with the equipment being retrieved, the report claimed.
However, the report also acknowledged that the US has struggled to keep track of weapons it sent to Kiev as required by law under the Arms Export Control Act.
The report showed that American military forces had failed to monitor where much of the military equipment being sent into Ukraine was ending up.
It said the US Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) in Kiev “was unable to conduct required [end-use monitoring] of military equipment that the United States provided to Ukraine in FY 2022”.
It added that “the inability of DoD personnel to visit areas where equipment provided to Ukraine was being used or stored significantly hampered ODC-Kiev’s ability to execute” the monitoring.
The US has delivered multiple huge shipments of a variety of weapons and munitions to Ukraine, including Stinger and Javelin missiles, howitzers, grenade launchers, as well as millions of rounds of small-arms ammunition.
The delivered items also included National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), newly developed Phoenix Ghost drones and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
Russia, which strongly opposes the supply of Western weapons to Kiev, has repeatedly pointed out the dangers of flooding Ukraine with weapons and munitions.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned in May that Western-supplied arms and munitions were being smuggled out of Ukraine and sold on the black market.
She warned, “[T]errorist and criminal activity could reach unprecedented scale” due to the spreading of weapons and munitions to the wrong hands around the globe.
In this regard, Russian President Vladimir blames the West for stoking the “flames of war” by sending arms and weapons to Ukraine to fight a proxy war against Russia.
Putin said that the Western-supplied weapons and munitions were burning up in Ukraine.