Biden’s administration is stepping up control over fears that some will end up in the hands of the mafia, as Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation has already denounced
The White House will launch a special tracking program for the weapons it sends to Ukraine to prevent them from ending up on the black market as contraband. Suspicions of “illegal diversion” to mafia and other international criminal organizations have supported NATO, the EU and Interpol for months, but their worst fears have now been confirmed by Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation.
Police in the Scandinavian country have discovered at least one motorized gang of criminals in possession of assault rifles from arsenals exported by the West to the former Soviet republic to take on Russia. The office assures that there have been other similar cases in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, although none of these countries have ruled on them. The United States, for its part, acknowledges that it has only managed to personally control 10% of the 22,000 weapons classified as “special surveillance” and delivered to Kiev.
The seed of restlessness has been sown. The follow-up could likely become a ‘hot potato’ for the Joe Biden administration if Republicans win a majority in Congress and Senate in next Tuesday’s parliamentary election and decide to control the vast military equipment destined for Ukraine. The US has sent $18,000 million in aid — the military industry has revalued more than 400% — and the president, at least until a week ago, wanted to approve another €55,000 million extraordinary post before the election, predicting a Republican Party victory. Trump-friendly conservatives tend to moderate spending, and some of his appointees have expressed their reluctance to put large amounts of advanced weapons in the hands of a foreign country, capitalizing on the debate over whether the Russo-Ukrainian conflict is at this point is necessary to continue gaining momentum by armed means or it is imperative to put pressure on both sides to reach peace negotiations.
While the dilemma has been resolved, no one doubts that the delivery to Kiev is “necessary” for its army to resist the Russian invasion. However, as the months have passed and military aid has increased, voices have risen calling for the arsenals’ final destination to be tied down to avoid a serious international security problem. The Stimson Center, a renowned analysis group based in Washington, has been one of the most active in this warning, advising the Joe Biden administration to develop plans to control surplus weapons. “We must ensure that the pace and urgency (of the war) do not overtake our long-term interests,” he warns.
“We have seen signs that these weapons are already arriving in Finland,” the chief inspector of the Finnish National Investigation Agency, Christer Ahlgren, announced last Sunday the opening of an investigation into the discovery of at least assault rifles from Ukraine in the hands of the mafia. operating in the ports of the Scandinavian country. At least, that’s what Ahlgren claims, explaining that clandestine smuggling routes have already been opened and referring specifically to a biker gang that “has a unit in every major city in Ukraine”. Just a year ago, the National Police, together with Belgian and Dutch agents, arrested the two leaders of this organization in Spain and Germany for cocaine smuggling when they were hiding in a luxury urbanization in Marbella.
Europe does not want an implosive situation like the one that occurred thirty years ago with the Balkan war, the end of which meant the proliferation of numerous combat weapons between mafia and international terrorist groups. His trail even reached the horrific attacks in Paris in 2015 that left 131 dead, as two of the machine guns used in the Bataclan chamber massacre had left Yugoslav warehouses. After the 1997 crisis in Albania, 650,000 weapons were also reported missing.
So far, US experts have only been able to personally inspect the destination of 10% of high-risk weapons shipped to Ukraine, according to information from the Washington Post. Officials point out that monitoring protocols were designed for peacetime and now must adapt to the dizzying pace of a war that consumes nearly 40,000 artillery shells a day. Nor does the “war chaos”: that is, the disorder typical of the conflict and the impossibility for the American envoys to enter the front, not only because of the personal risk but also because of the international conflict that would arise if one of them died in a Russian attack.
Poland is the checkpoint. It is in this country where the transfer of the arsenals to Kiev usually takes place, the newspaper said. In the case of small arms and other military equipment, such as body armor, these are simply placed in the hands of the Ukrainian commanders according to a code of trust. The Zelensky administration is committed to ensuring that none of these goods end up on the black market and a special committee of parliament is tasked with overseeing these goods. However, no one is aware of the complications of tracking this traceability in the middle of a war, especially when the right devices are missing. The US has begun training Ukrainian officials in using scanners to scan barcodes and inventory weapons. Many systems are handmade. The US military counts empty ammunition boxes and tracks the spending of Ukrainian troops. These in turn still carry a large part of that accounting on paper.
The White House assures that, despite the “chaotic nature” of the war, “the United States and Ukraine have worked together to prevent the misuse of illegal weapons” and have not yet documented any cases of marketing. Kiev has sent the Pentagon some reports about the loss or breakage of equipment, or the illegibility of its identity codes. Washington hopes to achieve a “reasonable” level of effectiveness in control of arsenals, though it admits it won’t be absolute. Within his plan, he has also intensified the flow of information with the allies about monitoring, as there is no central monitoring system for all Western exports.
Several analysts have alluded to the referent of the war in Yugoslavia to demand maximum surveillance from the donor countries. Catherine de Bolle, Executive Director of Europol, expressed concern on May 28 that a similar event would be repeated in an interview with ‘Die Weld’, where she pointed out that “there is a fear that some of the weapons supplied to Ukraine get into bad hands.” De Bolle recalled how after the Balkan War an undetermined amount of weapons from ex-Yugoslav warehouses ended up at European, African and Middle Eastern mafia and terrorist organisations. Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock shares the same view: “As soon as the weapons are silenced, the illicit trade in war materials will begin,” as “criminal groups seek to exploit chaotic situations to take advantage of the large number of weapons available. will be a real challenge for us.”
Among the most sensitive are the Stinger anti-aircraft missiles or the popular Javelin anti-tank missiles, which have been sent by the thousands to the Ukrainian army and apparently coveted by the market. The Arms Control Association and the Stimson Center assure that the existence of black boxes makes it possible to know the use of the Javelin. However, Russian media claim that these missiles are already for sale on the so-called dark web.
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has denied this and all other information that has emerged about the possibility of illegal trade in military goods. “The Kremlin’s propagandists are provoking the creation of dangerous myths and fictions about the processes taking place in Ukraine,” he said in his statement, adding that the Nordic media that reproduced the complaint of the Finnish National Investigation Agency published words that the inspector of the department «actually not said» to fulfill «Putin’s will» and «stain the image of the Ukrainian state».
The Zelensky Executive’s precaution is not just a ritual. The government is concerned about this kind of information, as the allies could cut weapons shipments if the existence of a black market is proven and some analysts even argue that the country’s accession to the EU would be jeopardized. Despite the good words of the Union in accepting him as a partner, the truth is that Ukraine has set a very high bar for reforms to adapt to the democratic and anti-corruption standards in force in Europe. Episodes like the one after the fall of the USSR, when a million Soviet weapons ended up on the black market in Ukraine between 1992 and 2007, still weigh on the former republic. With the start of the Donbas War in 2014, some studies indicate that both the Ukrainian and Russian military have looted up to 300,000 small arms.
Source: La Verdad
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