Ukraine exported nearly US$1 billion of weapons last year, mainly to Africa

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Ukraine’s arms exports amounted to US$956.7 billion last year, an increase of US$150 million over the previous year, with much of the equipment being sold to African countries.

The Kommersant-Ukraine newspaper quoted data from the State Service for Export Control, stating that in 2009 state-run arms exporter Ukrspetsexport sold US$799.5 worth of military equipment and US$956.7 billion last year.

The leading buyers of weapons from the Ukraine were Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which together bought 250 T-55 and T-72 tanks. Uganda was also a top buyer last year.

Sudan also bought Grad multiple rocket launchers, 122-mm 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzers, 152-mm 1S3 Akatsia self-propelled howitzers, D-30 howitzers, 82-mm mortars and a variety of small arms, including 10 000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, RIA Novosti reports.

African countries purchased 3 000 rifles, 50 000 submachine guns, 500 light and 100 heavy machine guns and grenade launchers of all types, the State Service for Export control said.

Meanwhile, Kiev also delivered 95 000 rifles to the United States and 32 000 rifles to Germany. Other sales included a T-80BV main battle tank – built in 1985 – to the US and 14 air-to-air missiles to Italy.

However, former Ukrspetsexport director Sergei Bondarchuk said the figures were unrealistic. “I don’t trust these figures. As far as I know, we only signed an option for a previous contract with Sudan last year and the rest are ongoing deliveries under contracts signed by the previous team,” Bondarchuk told the Kommersant-Ukraine.

There has been no comment from Ukrspetsexport so far.

Ukraine has been among the 12 largest arms exporting countries in the world in the past two decades. From 1992 to 2010, its exports of military products totalled US$8.6 billion. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) states that an estimated 18% of Ukrainian arms exports between 2005 and 2009 were for recipients in sub-Saharan Africa, notably Kenya, Chad, Southern Sudan, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and the DRC.

Local experts say Ukraine’s status as a major arms exporter is maintained mainly through sales of Soviet-era weapons and that it now needs to pay more attention to the production and sales of modern and high-tech weapons.