The American and British expert committee that deals with the investigation of Ukraine’s alleged arm sales to Iraq completed its work on the Ukrainian territory and left the country. During the investigation process, the experts visited several military units, Topaz enterprise in the Donetsk region (where sophisticated radar systems are produced), conducted meetings with spokespeople for the executive power and parliamentarians.
Ukraine has been recently charged with the alleged sales of radar system Kolchuga to Iraq. The Ukrainian parliament has set up its own special committee for the investigation of the arms sales case. The political opposition of Ukraine has already called it a “committee for the president.” The opposition suspects that the unstable pro-presidential majority in the Ukrainian parliament wants to vindicate President Kuchma, rather than determine the truth.
Ukrainian television channels reported about the work of the American and British expert group. Journalists repeatedly said in their repots that foreign experts did not find anything. It stands the reason that the experts did not have a goal to find the place, from where Kolchuga radar systems were shipped to Iraq (if they were shipped at all). Most likely, they were looking for completely different things. We will soon find out, if they found anything, or not.
US Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual said on Thursday that there would be a report made regarding the probe in Ukraine. Pascual said that the report would be made in London, seven or ten days after the complete collection of information. "The team is still working on the process of collecting as many facts as they can. At that point they will write, in London, their report analyzing the material to determine if there is any other additional information that they need," US Ambassador Carlos Pascual told reporters.
The US ambassador stressed out that the USA did not have any doubts regarding the authenticity of the audio tape from Major Melnichenko. A part of those tapes contains a conversation in Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma’s office regarding the sale of radar systems to Iraq. The tapes were proved authentic, which later resulted in the current scandal.
The reaction of the Ukrainian government to American specialists’ conclusions was rather strange. They ordered to perform their own expertise of some tapes (there are no original tapes of that conversation in Ukraine, though). Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry invited Carlos Pascual to receive the notes with the conclusions of the Ukrainian expertise. As it was said there, the tapes of the conversation, to which the US State Department referred to, were changed after the original recording. Were they exactly the tapes, to which the US State Department refer? Not clear yet.
It seems that the Ukrainian government can sense the vulnerability of their position. Until recently, there has been no expertise performed due to the absence of the original tape. What did they examine this time, what is it all about? There were other versions prepared for that. For example, one of them says that it was not good to refer to Major Melnichenko’s audio tapes, because he bugged secret talks, having broken the law. Maybe, Melnichenko is a spy? Ukrainians are currently paving the way for the anti-American hysteria. One can get this feeling from certain television programs, or from what politicians say.
Vladimir Malinkovich, a member of the state committee for democracy and public development said: “Speaking about the special need to improve the relations with America, I do not think that this policy will be popular in the country nowadays. America is working on a war, this war is not likely to become popular. The United States has been working on this war regardless of what Europe and the majority of third countries think on the subject. There is no point to make bootlicking gestures for the USA in this respect.”
Americans are drawn to believe in the results of their own experts. They do not doubt that Melnichenko’s tape are genuine, even after the Ukrainian demarche. The expert group was divided into three groups (one of them worked in the defense field, the second one – in the political field and the third one worked with the issues of arms export). The head of the parliamentary committee for national security and defense, Georgy Kryuchkov believes that all those three groups studied the political aspects of the export control over the Ukrainian arms. The experts also found out, how many Kolchuga radar systems were produced in Ukraine, and where they were located then. It might not be their main goal to pursue, though.
Probably, Americans arrived in Ukraine in order to find out, how their planes could avoid being detected by Kolchuga radar systems during the military operation in Iraq? Radar producers and sellers know all about it, don’t they?
Vladimir Malinkovich, the head of the state committee for democracy and public development: “I think that the country’s administration is acting correctly now. I do not know, if there was a mistake made in the past, we have only audio tapes about the alleged arms sale. This material is not really trustworthy, because it was obtained on the illegal basis and then handed over to the special services of another country. Therefore, it goes about espionage here. If we got a tape of some secret conversation in the White House, or a tape from the Oval Office, we would be very surprised too. So, if the charges are only based on Major Melnichenko's records, then there is nothing scary about it. However, if there was at least one sophisticated radar system sold to Iraq, then it will be much worse. If the Ukrainian government is sure that it did not sell any radar systems, then Ukraine is supposed to be absolutely open for any kinds of investigation or probes. This is what is happening at the moment. If America acts contrary to UN resolutions, Ukraine won’t approve that. Our government, our leadership must act according to the interests of its own people and for the sake of the peace in the whole world. If America is being aggressive, Ukraine’s interests will not include any active steps for the improvement of friendly relations with the United States."
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov