European countries exporting arms to Russia and to Ukraine

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Belarus and Transnistria (Molodva) are included into the “Russian realm” as they host Russian military units / special services with Russian military material; (charts based on /

Who has delivered weapons to Russia?

France, Italy and Germany. Those are countries loudly calling for a “peaceful” solution or a “normalization of the relationship” with Russia. Those are also the countries that have a long history of military-technical cooperation with Russia. Well-known is that the French still have not cancelled their selling of “Mistral” helicopter carriers (which is happily used by Russian propaganda in order to put pressure on France). Only at the beginning of December 2014, Thales, a French defense company suspended a deal to build reconnaissance satellites for Russia – on US pressure. It formerly had participated in upgrading Russian Su-27 warplanes, worked with Russia on Ka-52 helicopters, MiG-AT training aircraft, Su-30 fighter aircraft, or T-90 tanks (they also appeared in Ukraine last year).

German Rheinmetall built a high-tech military training facility for the Russian military/special services. The deal was only stopped after much discussion at the end of August 2014 by a German court. Daily Beast quoted US officials that there was still some German training given to the GRU Spetsnaz – the Russian military intelligence which played a crucial role occupying various parts of Ukraine. But NATO also participated in the training of Russian military, in 2012 for example, NATO and Russia held common “defense missile exercises” in Germany. According to German legislation, some pistols, revolvers, shotguns, rifles and ammunition are so-called “sport weapons” and can be exported without the usual restrictions, and are also excluded from the EU embargo. But there was worse: On 24 February 2015, the European Commission announced it approved the creation of a joint venture by Germany’s Daimler AG and the Russian military equipment enterprise Kamaz. EU policies prohibited selling weapons to Russia, but allowed them to be produced by EU firms working as joint venture in Russia. A possible delivery of diesel generators to Ukraine had been attacked (by the German social-democratic party SPD) as “military support“.

A report (p. 19f.) listed Germany and France as the biggest exporters between 2007 and 2011. Necessary to know that German defense firms’ outputs of “non-lethal” goods (military transport/logistics, surveillance and protective equipment) were five times as much as weapons and ammunition.

Italy for its part has been considered “a primary vector” of international activity of the Russian defense ministry, and the country among other provided Russia with armored vehicles. Russia tried to re-establish technical-military cooperation in February 2015.

Britain had been also a bigger exporter, and had canceled 34 of 285 licences in early summer 2014 – its exports included equipment for launching and controlling missiles, components for military helicopters, small arms ammunition, sniper rifles, body armor and military communications equipment. British media later did not report how many of the remaining licenses were suspended after the EU arms embargo on Russia came into force in August 2014. Members of parliament again in March 2015 came up with the question whether the reported 248 licences (spying software, ammunition and components for military helicopters) violated EU-sanctions. There was no talk of abolishing them at all on the grounds of not providing military help to Russia.

Austria and the Czech Republic were minor players in supporting weapons to Russia compared to the above mentioned. The Czech Republic was still exporting German and US fire arms in February 2015 excluded from the EU common military list, possibly enabling Russian provocations. The Czech Republic was one of the few countries serving both sides: They had sent winter gear, and a military logistics officer was based in Kyiv in order to help the Ukrainian army. But this still were no weapons.

It is interesteing to see that the EU common military list – updated in context of the arms embargo on Russia in summer 2014 – has many exceptions, and the EU embargo excludes contracts that came into force before 1 August 2014 (art 4(2)). It is not understandable why the embargo has not been extended after the Russian January/February-offensive.

Who delivered weapons to Ukraine?

Britain delivered 20 out-of-service Saxon armored vehicles in mid-February 2015 (without weapons, 55 were to arrive later), and Lithuania exported “elements of military weaponry” to Ukraine. Poland in September 2014 had declared it would sell weapons to Ukraine which it repeated several times, also at the end of January 2015 (it was unclear if there was concrete business behind those public statements). Finland declared at the end of February to deliver 1,000 LRF-200 laser rangefinders. Russian propaganda reacted aggressively.

The UK  and Poland were going to send military instructors (up to 75 and some dozen respectively), but those are not on the most wanted list of the Ukrainian army and will not have a decisive impact, even if western media might think otherwise.

Something does not add up

There continues to be a sharp discrepancy between the material delivered from western countries either to Ukraine or to Russia.

The role of Germany and France – as with Minsk 1 and Minsk 2 – is one of playing in Russia’s hands. Additionally, Russian media and politics attack countries aggressively that are willing to support Ukraine. In comparison, the reactions of western media and politicians to Russian military cooperation with western European states are laughable.

Such an environment enables Daimler to do business in Russia. But it also allows Russia to invite the Greek defense minister to visit Russia, and to sign an agreement with Greek Cyprus to host Russian aviation and naval forces. It enables Serbia to continue its history of hosting Russian troops (some of the protagonists of the 1990s Balkan wars resurfaced in Ukraine), for example in November 2014 it held joint military exercises with Russian airborne troops.

Bosnian Serb politicians have also prevented a weapons deal between Bosnia and Ukraine.

Let’s see what comes next.

PS: As expected, the story goes on…

The most outrageous is certainly a deal from Switzerland (!) – as became public today. Switzerland has taken pleasure in being „neutral“ in Russia’s war against Ukraine. But it is not. Already the Swiss-led OSCE mission in Ukraine has raised many questions. The most important questions certainly concern the role of the so-called „Joint Coordination Center for Ceasefire Monitoring“ and the role Russian generals („officers“) have been playing there. For example, why could Russians abuse OSCE markings and leave the coordination center in Debaltseve at the end of January 2015 (before the town was levelled by the Russian army) without consequences? Now, we can also add Swiss military deals with Russia: While Russian troops were killing Ukrainians in summer and autumn 2014, Switzerland concluded its biggest military deal with Russia ever, worth 90 millions Swiss Franks, and delivered special military gear that protects against radar and infrared radiation.

(updated 8, 20 March 2015)


About osteuropa news

Eastern European area studies in English and Germanm
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