Ukraine can find itself involved in another arms shipment scandal. This time it goes about Southern Sudan. Several Ukrainian and African media outlets reported that Ukrainian T-72 tanks had been spotted in the war-torn country. It is worthy of note that the UN introduced an embargo against the separatist state.
There is no direct evidence to prove illegal arms trafficking from Ukraine to Southern Sudan, but the news does not seem to be surprising at all. Ukraine was involved in illegal arms deals with Tamil Tigers, not to mention its affairs with Georgia. A cargo of Ukrainian military hardware was arrested in Nigeria at the end of June.
Why does Kiev have such strange partners in the arms business? Vladimir Skachko, a Ukrainian scientist of politics, said in an interview with Pravda.Ru that Ukraine had no special strategic interests in Sudan.
“We don’t need Sudanese slaves that Egyptians and Arabs used to hunt for in ancient times, nor do we need the Sudanese oil, which someone in the West is eager to obtain,” the specialist said.
The talks about the arms deals between Ukraine and Southern Sudan appeared in 2008, when Somali pirates seized the Faina vessel with a cargo of Ukrainian-made military hardware on board in September. The ship was traveling to Kenya, but it was clear that Kenya was a transit state to bring the arms to Southern Sudan.
Why would Ukraine sell its arms to separatists? First and foremost, no one else would buy the nation’s outdated, albeit modernized, hardware of the Soviet times. For example, Ukraine still has about 50,000 Soviet armored vehicles. Secondly, separatists pay cash for what they buy with no taxes and no additional attention.
“Why do you think so many arms depots either burn or explode across Ukraine during the recent three years? It’s because no one can account for what has been destroyed by the fire. It is an open secret that the fire is the primary weapon of a thief. However, what is done by night appears by day. The news about Ukrainian arms appearing in various countries will continue to emerge. The Ukrainian arms may appear in most exotic and remote locations,” Vladimir Skachko said.
As soon as the Somali pirates received their ransom for the Faina, the scandal was pushed into the background and eventually forgotten. Most likely, the Faina was not the only Ukrainian vessel which delivered arms to the rebels in Southern Sudan.
It is worthy of note that Darfur is not the only problem, which Sudan – the largest African state – has to deal with at the moment. The problems began in the southern region of the country, although they were similar to those in Darfur. The local Christian tribes were waging war against the dominant influence of Islam. The ethnic war continued in Southern Sudan since 1955.
The combat action was finally stopped in 2005. It was agreed that the population of Southern Sudan would go to the polls to decide whether they wanted to live together with Arabs or separately from them.
Huge oil deposits have been discovered both in the west and the east of the country. Specialists say that the Sudanese oil reserves may eventually outshine the fabulous oil riches of Saudi Arabia. A number of Western countries, as well as China, have already set sights on Sudan at this point.
The truce, which was signed in 2005, said that the parties would go fifty-fifty in sharing the oil sales income. What is going to happen if Southern Sudan becomes an independent state?
To all appearance, the war in Sudan will resume - the preparations are underway. Ukraine will be good for illegal arms trafficking – no one is going to reproach the West for its efforts to arm the Sudanese rebels and trigger another oil fight.