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19 juillet 2011 2 19 /07 /juillet /2011 19:07



KIEV, Ukraine, July 19 (UPI)


Africa imported $956.7 million of Ukrainian armaments in 2010, an increase of about 20 percent over the previous year, Ukrainian government figures indicate.


"The portfolio of contracts signed by state-run arms exporter Ukrspetsexport increased in value from $799.5 million in 2009 to $956.7 million (in 2010)," said Ukraine's State Service for Export Control.


The 2009 figures represented a 14 percent increase over Ukrspetsexport's 2008 sales.


Africa's leading purchasers of Ukrainian weaponry are Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kommersant-Ukraine newspaper reported Monday.


The two countries bought a total of 250 T-55 and T-72 tanks. The T-72, first produced in the Soviet Union in the 1970s, has been widely exported to many African, Asian and Middle Eastern nations.


Oil-rich Sudan, currently fighting a number of insurgent groups along with Khartoum's campaign in Darfur, also bought Grad multiple rocket launchers, 122-mm 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzers, 152-mm 1S3 Akatsia self-propelled howitzers, D-30 howitzers, 82-mm mortars and a masses of small arms, including 10,000 Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles.


Last month Ukrspetsexport signed a $100 million contract with the Ethiopian Defense Ministry on the delivery of more than 200 T-72 tanks, one of the largest contracts Ukrspetsexport has signed in the last 15 years. Ukrspetsexport is expecting the contract to generate additional business in the form of further orders for the repair and upkeep of the tanks.


The Ukrainian arms sales to Africa have aroused criticism as they are seen as fueling Africa's rampant civil wars. Former Ukrspetsexport Director Sergei Bondarchuk criticized the State Service for Export Control data as unrealistic.


"I don't trust these figures," Bondarchuk said. "As far as I know, we only signed an option for a previous contract with Sudan last year and the rest are ongoing deliveries under contracts signed by the previous team."


Documents released by WikiLeaks indicate the U.S. government expressed concern about Ukrainian arms exports to African nations.


One leaked document stated that during U.S.-Ukraine non-proliferation talks in Kiev in November 2009, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Vann Van Diepen claimed that Ukrspetsexport had sold tanks to South Sudan, despite assurances to the contrary and provided the Ukrainian negotiators with evidence of the sales.


Another leaked cable noted, "Van Diepen showed the Ukrainians clear satellite imagery of T-72 tanks unloaded in Kenya, transferred to rail yards for onward shipment, and finally in South Sudan. This led to a commotion on the Ukrainian side."


Ukrspetsexport not only sells the products of the Ukrainian arms industry but also the excess weaponry of the armed forces of Ukraine inherited from the Soviet army.

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