Western countries have been ramping up weapons and ammunition shipments to Ukraine as Kyiv fights off a Russian invasion, but arms trade experts warn some of the lethal assistance could end up falling into the wrong hands.
Ukraine in particular has a history as a hub of the arms trade during the 1990s, setting off alarm bells for those who study illicit flows.
“There are very significant risks associated to the proliferation of weapons in Ukraine at the moment, in particular regarding small arms and light weapons,” said Nils Duquet, a researcher and director of the Flemish Peace Institute.
Western nations, above all the US, have announced successive shipments of both light and heavy weapons for Kyiv’s forces since Russian troops crossed the Ukrainian border on February 24.
Washington alone has delivered or promised military gear including hundreds of Switchblade kamikaze drones, 7,000 assault rifles with 50 million rounds of ammunition, laser-guided missiles and radar systems to detect enemy drones and incoming artillery fire.
“While the response to provide more weapons to Ukraine is understandable…, it would be prudent to consider the immediate and long-term security implications,” the US-based Stimson Center think-tank said in March.
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