Ukraine exported weapons to Georgia after the military conflict in August of this year, the head of the investigation committee Valery Konovalyuk said. “A large quantity of ammunition was sent to Batumi, Georgia, under the guise of humanitarian cargoes on September 22,” the official said in an interview with Izvestia.ru website. The official added that the arms shipments were masterminded by President Viktor Yushchenko.
US specialists helped the Ukrainians in the selection of weapons, Konovalyuk said. “According to the information that we have obtained, four experts from the United States were selecting anti-tank guided missiles to be shipped to Georgia. It clearly shows that the scheme of arms export from Ukraine has been organized completely. The work of the investigation committee does not stop the suppliers,” the deputy said.
The committee was investigating the information and was planning to expose the results in two weeks.
The head of the investigation committee pointed out that it was President Yushchenko who was supervising the sales of Ukrainian weapons to Georgia. The committee has managed to collect enough evidence to prove it, the deputy said. “He was granting sanctions and making decisions. He is the mastermind of the entire system of arms export,” the head of the committee said.
The deputy said that there was a narrow circle of people controlling the arms shipments today. “The government performs solely conditional functions here. The president nominates a defense minister candidate. He signs decrees to appoint the chiefs of all state structures connected with the export of arms,” Valery Konovalyuk said.
Ukraine ’s Defense Ministry has lost hundreds of millions of hryvnas (the Ukrainian currency) as a result of those actions. “The up-to-date developments, which the Ukrainian military could only dream of, were sent to Georgia. Ukraine was selling its military hardware to Georgia at lower prices,” the official said.
“It is clear already that most of the profit received from the arms export passed the state treasury by. The arms sales deals are evaluated at $2.5 billion, whereas the state received only one billion hryvnas from this amount,” the deputy said.
“We were informed of Yushchenko’s correspondence with several officials. The president was aware of the fact that the sales of anti-missile complexes would entail problems for Ukraine. Yushchenko ignored that. The current arms scandal shows how our political administration is building relations with our strategic partners – Russia – and with its own nation,” the official said.
The committee made the complete list of weapons delivered to Tbilisi during the recent ten years. The export was activated after 2004, when Mikhail Saakashvili came to power in Georgia.
Ukraine used to deliver assault rifles, training planes and pistols to Georgia prior to Saakashvili’s presidency. In 2004 and 2005 the export range changed to tanks, helicopters and artillery systems. In 2007 Georgia received six Buk-M1 missile complexes, 48 ground-to-air guided missiles, 200 portable missile systems Strela and Igla, and T-72 tanks. In 2008, Ukraine sold Shkval modules and Grad volley-fire systems to Georgia, which the latter subsequently used on August 8, when Georgian troops attacked South Ossetia.
“Ukraine became the largest supplier of arms to Georgia. We delivered up-to-date armored vehicles, self-propelled systems and tanks to Georgia. The Ukrainian military currently use T-64 tanks, whereas the new T-72 tanks are shipped to Saakashvili. We sold our best artillery systems from April to June of 2008. All of this proves that Ukraine was preparing Georgia for launching the military action. Yushchenko knew that a military campaign was going to happen. Now it is clear that Ukraine lost a considerable part of its sovereignty when Yushchenko became the president. The head of state is running the puppet politics, serving the strategic plans of transoceanic partners,” the official concluded.