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NATO military alliance members including the UK, France and Germany, are being accused of supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by continuing to supply weapons to the Russian military up until at least 2020, despite an embargo following the annexation of Crimea in 2014. According to data unearthed from the Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports (COARM), a third of the European Union’s member states have exported weapons to Russia in recent years.
The COARM data, first analysed by Investigate Europe, reveals a staggering €346million (£290million) worth of military equipment – including aircraft, vehicles, missiles, rockets, torpedos and bombs – was exported to Russia from at least 10 EU countries between 2015 and 2020.
$134 million worth of military equipment shipped between 2014 and 2020, despite EU sanctions on Russia, according to local media
Germany shipped €122 million ($134 million) worth of military equipment to Russia despite the EU arms embargo in effect since 2014, local media has reported. Nine other EU member states also exported military goods during that time, said the report.
German arms exports to Russia between 2014 and 2020 included special protection vehicles and icebreaker vessels but also lethal weapons such as rifles, according to a report by Investigate Europe.
France, Germany and Italy sold hundreds of millions worth of arms to Russia
They sold military kit to the Kremlin for years despite an EU embargo banning it
They were three of at least 10 countries to use a loophole to get past the ban
France alone sold €152million out of a total €350million (£293million) exported
France, Germany and Italy used a loophole in a ban of exporting arms to Russia to send the Kremlin €296million worth of military equipment that is now being used against Ukraine.
They were just three of at least 10 EU member states to export almost €350million (£293million) in equipment that can include missiles, rockets, ships and bombs.
France continued to issue arms export licences to Russia after the 2014 embargo, investigative website Disclose has revealed.
According to leaked documents, French companies delivered arms to Russia after the EU imposed sanctions, including an arms embargo, against Russia in 2014. France has since issued more than 70 licences to export military equipment to companies worth €152 million.
Contacted by EURACTIV France, the Armed Forces ministry confirmed that France “allowed “the execution of certain contracts concluded before 2014”, something the EU embargo against Russia allowed.
A third of European Union (EU) member states exported weapons to Russia after the 2014 embargo banning them, according to data from the working group, which records all military exports from the 27, analyzed by Investigate Europe.
The data, released today in the newspaper Public, indicate that 10 EU countries exported weapons to Russia after the July 2014 embargo, which prohibits “the direct or indirect sale, supply, transfer or export of weapons and related material”. The 2014 embargo followed the annexation of Crimea and the proclamation of the breakaway republics of Donbass six months earlier.Every year, the 27 member states submit their data to the Council of the EU Working Group on Conventional Arms Exports, COARM.
Data analyzed by the Investigate Europe consortium indicates that between 2015 and 2021 at least 10 member states exported weapons to Russia worth a total of 346 million euros.
Three EU-based firms are suspected of trying to smuggle arms to Belarus and Russia, in what might be the tip of a larger black market.
Czech firm Česká zbrojovka tried to export over 100 rifles and pistols via Moldova to Russia in 2020, according to a Moldovan document seen by EUobserver.
The shipment included ‘CZ TSR’-model sniper rifles, which can be used for sport or by special police.
Hungarian firm De Fango and Slovak firm XXeurope also tried to export hundreds of thousands of ammunition cartridges via Moldova to Belarus at about the same time, the document indicated.
The EU imposed arms embargoes on Belarus and Russia in 2011 and 2014.
And a Moldovan liaison officer shared the information – a 12-page PowerPoint presentation created by Moldovan law-enforcement authorities – with an EU diplomat in Chișinău in July to raise the alarm.
The European Union’s poorly co-ordinated arms export policy is undermining Europe’s security, its foreign policy and its defence industry.
The EU’s arms export policy should have three aims. First, arms control, in order to keep arms out of the wrong hands. Second, targeted arms exports to allies and countries that share the EU’s security challenges. Third, supporting the development of European military technology.
The Council of the EU is currently struggling over whether to impose an arms embargo on Russia as punishment for its role in destabilising Ukraine. Several governments in the EU, including the UK, have already announced that they are denying arms export licences for Russia and revoking those that have previously been granted.
Also in place is a Council Common Position that governs exports of military technology and equipment. This already obliges EU member states to deny arms export licences if there are concerns about the recipient’s respect for international humanitarian and human rights law or non-proliferation – or if they are involved in internal, regional or international conflict and tensions.
Arms embargoes are a vital part of the EU’s “smart sanctions” toolbox, with 22 currently in force. They have no negative humanitarian impact and are usually deployed to restrict arms flows and change target behaviour, and send political signals. The targets of EU arms embargoes tend not to be significant importers of EU-produced arms.
Since 2014, the news media and other observers have provided accounts of weapon sourcing to armed formations operating in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. To date, efforts to verify these claims have relied largely on examinations of open-source photos and videos of weapons and ammunition, rather than systematic field-based investigations.
To fill this evidentiary gap, CAR undertook a three-year field investigation of materiel recovered from the self-declared DPR and LPR. This report presents the findings to help shed light on the extent to which these armed formations depend on external supplies.
The evidence confirms that factories based in what is today the Russian Federation produced most of the militias’ ammunition and nearly all their weapons, from assault rifles and precision rifles, grenade launchers, precision-guided munitions, and landmines to anti-tank guided weapons. The findings also indicate that these armed formations field weapons previously captured by Russian forces, such as Polish anti-aircraft missiles seized in Georgia in 2008.
The tough future of Russia’s attack drones
The rapid development of military drones around the world has raised a natural question time and time again-why is Russia so backward in design and production? In most cases, the main reason for this is the lazy thinking of the military and engineers. However, one of the most important and completely unreported problems lies in a completely different level-the technical level. Today we are going to analyze the real reason why Russia has fallen behind in attacking drones.
When we published the key points of the report “Weapons of War in Ukraine” by the UK-based investigative organization Conflict Armament Research, it caught our eye that between 2014 and 2018, the drone manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries supplied a sanctioned Russian defense company with UAV components produced by various European and US manufacturers, thus providing a loophole for sanctions evasion.
To understand whether it is used now, we reached out to military expert Mykhailo Samus, Director of the New Geopolitics Research Network, and found out how exactly Israeli technologies are helping Russia today, when western companies decided that it’s not worth the risk supplying war technologies to Russia, and that, paradoxically, Ukraine is still under an unofficial arms embargo from countries of Western Europe.
The surveillance drones contained computer chips and components made in the United States and Europe
The engine came from a German company that supplies model-airplane hobbyists. Computer chips for navigation and wireless communication were made by U.S. suppliers. A British company provided a motion-sensing chip. Other parts came from Switzerland and South Korea.