Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) said it detained two suspects for attempting to sell a number of Russian weapons captured near Bakhmut to a criminal gang in Dnipro, a city located in central Ukraine.

According to the SBU report, the authorities retrieved a weapons cache that included anti-tank grenade launchers, machine guns and more than 60 rifles, some of which were Russia’s newer issued AK-12 rifles.

The two unnamed suspects were contractors from one of the military units of the Ukrainian armed forces and the weapons were likely captured by Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut before the suspects took possession of them.

The Battle of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine was one of the fiercest battles resulting from the February 2022 full-scale invasion, with Russia capturing the Ukrainian stronghold after sustaining heavy losses.

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The suspects were arrested when they attempted to sell seven Kalashnikov (AK) type rifles, including the newer AK-12 model, which is an updated version of the Soviet-made AK-74 model with better control and accuracy.

There is a relatively small number of AK-12s in the Russian military compared to older Soviet models such as AK-74s likely due to the arms shortage, but Ukraine has since captured and used the weapons themselves since the invasion began.

Similar incidents have occurred before, including one in August this year. Although illegal weapon trades involving criminal gangs remains an issue, there was no evidence of significant weapon smuggling out of Ukraine, according to European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson in a statement made in May.

ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 19, 2024
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ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 19, 2024

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