USA: Zweifel an Javelin-Raketen für Kiew

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Siehe auch > Fotos 2 – Briten liefern der Ukraine Javelin

Wir haben über die britische Lieferung von Javelin-Panzerabwehr an Kiew berichtet. Aus den USA kommennun Zweifel: Ist es richtig, der Ukraine diese Waffe zu liefern? Prononciert äussert sich der Experte David Hambling in der angesehen Zeitschrift “Forbes” gegen die Überlassung der Javelin-Raketen.

Many applauded the U.K. government for its decisive action in providing military aid to Ukraine this week. While the U.S. appeared to vacillate over the difference between an incursion and an invasion and Germany continues to block arms exports to Ukraine,Royal Air Force C-17s made special flights to Ukraineto deliver a consignment of much-needed light anti-tank weapons. Later in the week, Washington authorized the Baltic states to send U.S.-made, shoulder-fired anti-tank and anti-aircraft missile systems to Ukraine as well. But hastily transferring portable weapons to an area known for criminal diversion of military hardware might end badly.

Ukraine has a big problem with weapons ending up in the wrong hands, and pilferage takes place on an industrial scale. There are roughly 1.2 million legal firearms in Ukraine – and around 4 million illegal weapons,many of them fully-automatic military weapons, according to the Small Arms Survey. That is about one per ten people.

Such arms are big business.

“Ukraine is believed to have one of the largest arms trafficking markets in Europe. While it has long been a key link in the global arms trade, its role has only intensified since the beginning of the conflict in eastern Ukraine,” according to the

Most of the current flood of weapons in the black market can be traced to the previous round of conflict in Ukraine, according to a 2021 reportfrom the Small Arms Survey. These are typically items manufactured in Soviet times and looted from military warehouses – frequently on the Russian side. Fortunately the weapons appear to have stayed largely within Ukraine rather than being exported.

Much of the problem comes from weapons stashed by volunteer battalions. These groups sometimes distrust the Kyiv government and prefer to maintain their own arms stockpiles, which may be discovered by others. One accountdescribes how a man looking for mushrooms in the forest found a cache including a couple of RPG-18 anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launchers, which he handed over to the police. Similar finds have been made in other secluded areas. Some of them have ended up in the hands of criminals. Ukrainian authorities convicted Gregoire Moutaux of attempting to smuggle weapons including rocket launchers for a terrorist attack in France in 2016.

As the Small Arms Survey notes, the problem is not just a historic one involving outdated equipment. In a case in 2019, two Ukrainian soldiers attempted to sell a collection of weapons including 15 RPG-22 rockets for just 75,000 Ukrainian hryvnia — around $2,900. In 2020 a member of the Ukrainian armed forces in Odessa stole several items including grenades and anti-tank mines.

The NLAW, or Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapons, supplied by the U.K. would be an attractive target for any thief. The shoulder-fired weapon has an advanced guidance system, unlike the old RPGs, and can hit a tank at 800 meters. It has a powerful enough warhead to take out modern Russian tanks, even those fitted with reactive armor and other countermeasures.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has now given approval for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to re-export some of their American-supplied equipment — including man-portable Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles — to Ukraine.

Of course the NLAWs and other Western gear are likely to go to elite units and be closely supervised wherever they are sent. But warfare is a messy and uncertain business. Any item worth upwards of $25,000 that can easily be stashed in the back of a car presents a particular risk when there is a ready market.

According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, “many of the arms now in the control of non-state groups in Ukraine fall into the hands of organized crime groups selling arms to the Middle East, often through Odessa.”

That would be a worst-case scenario, but there are certainly precedents. In the 1980s, the U.S. supplied Stinger portable surface-to-air missiles to Mujahideen fighters in Afghanistanto fend off Soviet helicopter gunships. But the Stingers started turning up on the international black market in Pakistan, forcing the CIA to launch a major effort to buy them back. This was not entirely successful, with some missiles reportedly being bought by Hezbollah.

Providing essential equipment to Ukraine could help deter a Russian invasion. But supplying them with portable, lethal, high-value gear that might end up in the wrong hands could turn out to be an act the U.K. will regret.