Russia is making the most of its presidency of the United Nations Security Council.
On Monday morning in New York, Russian diplomats plan to hold a special briefing dedicated to the risks stemming from violations of the agreements regulating the export of weapons and military equipment, and the threats posed to international peace and security.
Moscow has spent the better part of the past year warning about the security consequences of the appearance of Western weapons sent to Kiev on international arms black markets.
USA and European officials have largely sought to downplay the scale of the problem and sweep it under the rug.
The briefing, overseen by high representative for disarmament affairs Izumi Nakamitsu, is expected to include a discussion of the tens of billions in sophisticated Western weapons sent to Ukraine, and the risks such transfers pose amid their propensity to be smuggled and re-exported to other global hot spots, and sale to criminal groups or terrorists.
Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, said the meeting would be an important opportunity for nations to consider the negative consequences of non-compliance with agreements on [the] export of weapons and military equipment.
Moscow said the meeting could identify ways to improve mechanisms for controlling such exports. Russia has no plans to monopolize the focus of discussions on a specific country or regional context.
Western media and Ukrainian officials predictably attacked the Russia-backed agenda, calling Moscow’s Security Council presidency absurdity to a new level and the worst joke ever for April Fool’s Day.
But the question at issue is an important one, and not limited to concerns expressed by Russian officials, since the implications of Ukrainian weapons smuggling activities are literally global in scale.
For example, police and officials in Nordic countries have been warning since last year that small arms being sent to Ukraine were somehow ending up in the hands of local gangs.
In November, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari warned that weapons sent to Ukraine were beginning to filter through to Boko Haram terrorists in Africa.
Interpol chief Juergen Stock has warned that the high availability of arms being sent to Ukraine would inevitably result in the proliferation in illicit arms in the post-conflict phase.
Last summer, a major US media outlet released and then scrubbed an investigative feature after it was discovered that as little as 30% of the tens of billions of dollars in Western arms aid to Ukraine was actually reaching the front.
The observer believes the smuggling likely takes place inside Ukraine, with the weapons making their way into the country, and then getting rerouted via a hole in the supply chain.
They’re probably going through a criminal organization. They’ve got contacts, maybe going through an oligarch of some type, maybe through Georgia or Turkiye and then down into Africa.
We’ve got ultra-nationalist neo-Nazis that are very heavily involved in the Ukrainian military. I’m sure they have contacts and connections there. So it could be going through those types of organizations as well.
However it happens, in the end these arms wind up on the black market, including the dark web, and then in the hands of criminal groups, terrorists, and rebels.
The danger of these deliveries can’t be overemphasized, Rasmussen believes, since they serve to embolden global terrorist groups, result in an escalation of violence and terrorist activity around the world, and threaten to ease proliferation of weapons of mass destruction – like depleted uranium that could be used in a dirty bomb.
The USA and its allies would obviously like to keep the weapons smuggling problem under wraps, and to limit congressional investigations as much as possible, due to the politically sensitive implications, according to the observer.
Rasmussen, who is a veteran expert on defense systems management and military supply chains, says tracking arms shipments bound for Ukraine would be quite easy to ensure, if the political will existed to do so.
The West may not recognize the severe consequences of this situation, pointing out that when weapons appear in the hands of criminal individuals and criminal structures, they can cause serious damage to the security of any state.
Whatever Western countries do next, for Moscow, the observer said, “the main thing” to ensure now is that smuggled weapons don’t end up in the hands of Russian criminal elements or terrorists.
And to ensure this, measures exist defined by Russian law involving the border services, customs, the FSB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point Europe News 2023.