Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov has quelled Western fears that Ukraine could become a source of arms smuggling, but acknowledged the need to expand weapons tracking systems, the Financial Times publication said on July 15.
“We need to survive. We have no reason to smuggle arms out of Ukraine,” Reznikov said in an interview with the Financial Times.
The minister said that some of Ukraine’s allies had sent military representatives to the country to observe the flow of their donated weapons, and he invited others to follow suit. He said the Ukrainians had every interest in retaining all of the $10 billion worth of kit provided by the Western allies.
Reznikov said Ukraine was using NATO software, acquired in 2019, to monitor the destination and use of Western-provided weapons which NATO allies could access. But it had a limited number of licenses and trained users, which Kyiv was now trying to increase. “We need to move forward quickly. We understand this,” the minister said.
According to Reznikov, the system, currently only administrated centrally, would be extended to brigade level and possibly to battalions. Kyiv would consult with its partners on how far down to deploy it. Ukraine is also developing two other tracking systems to work in parallel with the NATO software.
Reznikov said there was no chance of heavy weapons systems, such as 155 mm howitzers or U.S.-supplied rocket systems, being stolen. They all had GPS trackers, he said, and Western military satellites could also keep tabs on large equipment.
The publication said that Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and lightweight “kamikaze” drones are of particular concern to Western officials, given their portability. Reznikov said that while these were not GPS tracked, they were limited to Ukraine’s special forces and therefore under strict controls.
“I discuss this with partners, I discuss this with other defense ministers – do you have any concerns? They say ‘no’,” Reznikov said.
The minister said that Western-supplied arms, which have a longer range and are more accurate than Ukraine’s old Soviet-era artillery, with reducing the death toll among Ukrainian troops in the eastern Donbas region, which reached an average of 100 a day in May.
More rockets and artillery would be essential for any Ukrainian attempt to push back Russian forces in a counter-offensive, he said.
“By the end of this year there will be a serious change in the battlefield in Ukraine’s favour. I hope we will see the counter-offensive campaign this year and [that] it will be successful,” Reznikov said.
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