Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Janes' Article: Ukraine's missing missiles

Here's a sobering article from Jane's Defense Review

Since March, Ukraine's defence minister, Yevhen Marchuk, has been searching for missing missiles and other weapons that could have fallen into terrorist hands or been sold to rogue states. JID investigates why this potentially catastrophic situation is only now being brought to light.

Marchuk raised a domestic storm when he publicly revealed that the Defence Ministry had no unified accounting system. Nor has a comprehensive inventory of military equipment in Ukraine ever been carried out. It is unknown what weapons the Defence Ministry actually possesses or what it inherited from the former Soviet Union.

When Marchuk became defence minister in June 2003 he ordered two inventories that indicated US$170m of military stock was probably missing. These results were so shocking that Marchuk ordered a new team of investigators to conduct an additional check using different methods. They uncovered that additional equipment, worth $20m, was missing.

Ukraine's officially declared revenue from the sale of military equipment is $3bn. This, according to JID's inside sources, only represents a small fraction of the real volume of Ukraine's military exports. Meanwhile, Marchuk has complained that there is no data available to him regarding the quantity of military equipment Ukraine inherited after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

The sheer scale of what appears to be missing equipment is astounding, as demonstrated by just one example. In 1990-1991, on the eve of the break up of the Soviet Union, 1,942 S-185 rockets were delivered to the Zhytomir military base, west of Kiev. These rockets were to be dismantled.

In fact, only 488 of the 1,942 rockets can actually be accounted for. The missiles could have been sold to unknown groups or countries. Or their scrap metal, gold, platinum and silver could have been sold separately with the proceeds being transferred to offshore accounts.

"We are looking for several hundred missiles. They have already been decommissioned, but we cannot find them," complained Marchuk.

Today, there are reports that Ukraine is on the verge of "civil war." What'll happen to the missing missiles and what if Russia gets involved?:

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