The Director of Ukraine’s Armored Equipment Company accused Russian officials of “sabotaging” a negotiated agreement Kyiv had for purchasing foreign fighter aircraft, with Kremlin diplomats leveraging potential projects between Moscow and the country “on the other side of the planet,” according to the Eurasian Times.
The deal in question may have been a negotiated agreement to buy Soviet-era, legacy MiG-29s from Peru, the Dec. 28 report says, though no officials of any governments involved have verified or denied the claim.
Vladislav Belbas, the General Director of the Ukrainian Armored Equipment Company, made the allegation, adding that Russia has “obstructed” other of Ukraine’s global arms procurement attempts.
“In one country on the other side of the planet, we found fighter jets and began negotiating a purchase,” Belbas said. “The seller was ready, and the Ministry of Defense confirmed they were needed. Suddenly, one of the letters about this agreement fell into the hands of the Russians.”
Belbas added: “Very soon, a representative of the Russian embassy in this country began walking around with this letter and threatening local officials that Russia would shut down any projects for this country.”
While Belbas didn’t identify any specific countries or what fighter aircraft were involved in the potential deal, Russian milbloggers and commentators, as well as US efforts to find Latin American sources for weapons systems familiar to Ukrainian forces, suggest the deal could have been for MiG-29s from Peru.
A Peruvian Air Force MiG-29. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The Russian Telegram channel, Milinfolive, said Belbas was “possibly talking about Peru and a Ukrainian attempt to purchase MiG-29 fighters from the South American country.”
In January 2023, Voice of America filed a report on US efforts to help acquire weapons systems from Latin American countries for Ukraine’s defense, with the option of sending their Soviet weapons systems to Ukraine and then having them replaced with up-to-date US weapons systems.
Discussing possible sources of Russian-made military equipment available, the VoA report said: “Peru also reportedly has nine serviceable MiG-29 fighter jets and another four Su-25 ground attack aircraft in storage, though some analysts estimate the number of serviceable attack aircraft is higher.”
According to the report, US military officials of the US Southern Command saw the “opportunity to persuade some of those countries to give up their Russian-made weapons and systems and send them to Kyiv.”
“We are working with the countries that have the Russian equipment to either donate it or switch it out for United States equipment,” Gen. Laura Richardson, the commander of US Southern Command, said during an appearance at the Atlantic Council in Washington in January.
At the time, Richardson said discussions with six countries, in particular, “are in the works,” without providing any specifics.
The VoA report also discussed the possible reluctance of many South American countries to become involved on either side in the Russo-Ukrainian War, even or especially after Russia’s Feb. 24, 2022, full-scale invasion.
Though this allegedly sabotaged deal may not have come to fruition, Ukraine is making efforts at strengthening ties to Latin American nations.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has been looking to build support among Latin American nations for his country’s fight against the Russian invasion.
“This is a new beginning for Argentina, and I wish President Milei and the entire Argentinian people to surprise the world with their success,” Zelensky said on social media after attending the ceremony.
“I am also confident that bilateral cooperation between Ukraine and Argentina will continue to expand,” Zelensky added.
Earlier on the same day, Dec. 10, Zelensky had met with the leaders of Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay.
On X he said: “The support and strong united voice of Latin American countries that stand with the people of Ukraine in our fight for freedom and democracy is very important for us.”
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