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Part of weapons addressed to Ukraine end up on Mideast, Balkan black markets — expert

"The list of destinations can be quite diverse, but first of all these weapons are offered and sold to customers next door, to whom the delivery is the easiest," Andrey Kortunov noted

MOSCOW, August 8. /TASS/. Part of the weapons that Western countries send to Ukraine may end up on the black markets of the Middle East, the Balkans and other regions where there exist vast opportunities for their use, including by self-styled militias the authorities are unable to control, the director-general of the Russian International Affairs Council, Andrey Kortunov, told TASS.

He remarked it was hard to tell how large the share of Western military hardware, originally addressed to Ukraine that eventually surfaced on the black markets really was, because amid hostilities "it is difficult to keep the records of each firearm, each missile system and each howitzer."

"Ukraine was a country of thriving corruption even before this conflict, so it is easy to assume that some of the weapons never reach the frontline and whole batches of them end up on the grey or black markets. Ads on the Internet offering certain types of weapons are clear evidence of this. The problem does exist, and it is impossible to ignore it," the source said.

"As for the ultimate destinations of illegal arms deliveries, I suspect that, first of all, they are regions where conflicts are in progress, especially where there are self-styled militias beyond government control, which have both financial resources and transport and logistics capabilities. They are the recipients of the largest share of such deliveries," Kortunov continued. "The Middle East is one of the significant markets for various kinds of weapon systems. Also, crime rates are high in the Balkan sub-region. Certain simpler systems may sell well in the Balkans. Some items may reach South Asia and North Africa. The list of destinations can be quite diverse, but first of all these weapons are offered and sold to customers next door, to whom the delivery is the easiest."

Kortunov explained that the situation varied depending on different weapons systems. Small arms are "easier to steal and easier to sell and the market for them is wide," while more complex weapons, such as "modern howitzers and multiple launch rocket systems have less chances of appearing on the black markets."

As Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said earlier, "the collective West wants to prolong the conflict in Ukraine and for this reason it continues to carry out large-scale arms supplies to Kiev."

In particular, the United States is one of the largest suppliers of weapons to Ukraine. Washington has provided Ukraine with approximately $6.9 billion in military aid since the start of the Russia’s military operation and $8.8 billion since 2014. On June 30, President Joe Biden said the United States would provide another $800-million military aid package to Ukraine in the coming days.