Ukraine’s illegal arms deliveries to South Sudan: Between the truth and lies

Author : Artem Konopkin

Source : 112 Ukraine

European Union has imposed a ban on the supply of weapons to South Sudan since the proclamation of the country's independence in 2011
12:10, 2 October 2017

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Amnesty International

The Republic of South Sudan is the youngest state on the African continent. The path to independence, which was proclaimed on July 9, 2011, was long and thorny. The independence of the South Sudan was preceded by two bloody civil wars between the northern and southern parts of the country, which took millions of lives. The roots of the contradictions between the US and Sudan must be sought in the results of the Berlin Congress, which resulted in the colonial division of Africa between European states and the cutting of borders without taking into account ethnic and religious factors. Thus, present Sudan, as a result of the defeat of the "Mahdist state" in 1898, occurred under Anglo-Egyptian protectorate, and South Sudan was under English rule.

Ethnic and confessional differences between the north and south of the country are also very important for understanding the situation. In the north, predominantly Muslim Arabs live, and in the south - African peoples, professing Christianity and local cults. By combining such different communities in one state, one should expect contradictions and confrontations. The contradictions began in 1955, even before the formal proclamation of Sudan's independence, and lasted until 1972. Peace treaty was signed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and Southern Sudan gained broad autonomy.

Related: Kyiv suspected of supplying arms to Southern Sudan

The second civil war broke out in 1983 and continued intermittently until 2005. Based on its results, the south of the country received the right to hold a referendum on independence. The referendum took place in January 2011, and 98.83% people voted for the independence of South Sudan. The referendum took place with the consent and with the support of the official Khartoum (the capital of the Sudan) and under the auspices of the United Nations. The international community recognized the results of the referendum, and on July 14, South Sudan became the 193rd member of the UN.

However, Sudan and South Sudan there still have some unresolved territorial disputes. So, the status of the Abyei region has not been settled. It has the status of a demilitarized zone, there is a peacekeeping contingent, which includes Ukrainian peacekeepers.

After gaining independence, South Sudanese civil war began. In 2013, a war began between the representatives of the two main ethnic groups, the Dinka and Nuer tribes, and with varying intensity it continues to this day. The reason for the start of hostilities was the removal of President Salva Kiir (ethnic Dinka) and Vice-President Riek Machar (Nuer) from the office. Supporters of these two politicians have bad blood between them.

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Amnesty International recently published a report titled From London to Juba, a UK-registered company in South Sudan. In its report, Amnesty International the Ukrainian company Ukrynmash, which is part of the state concern Ukroboronprom, of supplying weapons to South Sudan, bypassing international sanctions and of violation of the Arms Trade Treaty. Together with Ukrynmash, the British company S-Profit Ltd (registered by a citizen of Ukraine) and the company from the United Arab Emirates "International Gold Group" appear in the report as intermediaries.


Amnesty International


Amnesty International

Despite the seriousness of the charges, the authors of the report do not give any proof of the illegality of arms supplies by Ukrynmash, giving only information about the signed contracts. Not even the contracts themselves. Nevertheless, the report caused a wave of discussion both inside the country and abroad. Recently, such accusations against Ukraine were voiced for its alleged delivering weapons to the DPRK, although that information was refuted by Ktiv. In this case, the situation is not entirely clear. Perhaps the supply of Ukrainian weapons to South Sudan really took place, but through a number of intermediaries. However, another important question: even if these supplies were real, did Ukraine violate the law?

Amnesty International

Head of the state enterprise Ukrynmash, Serhiy Slyusarenko, said on the air of Hromadske radio that Ukrynmash did not supply weapons to South Sudan. The data of the State Export Control Service say that weapons were still supplied to South Sudan. Slyusarenko notes that "in Ukraine there are six special exporting companies authorized by the government to sell arms and dual-use goods." That is, there are six special exporting companies, which could do the same as Ukrynmash did.

Related: Ukrinmash refutes information on supplying arms to South Sudan

To date, the UN has not imposed restrictions or a ban on the arms trade with South Sudan. Such resolution does not exist. European Union has imposed a ban on the supply of weapons to South Sudan since the proclamation of the country's independence in 2011. However, this embargo was not supported by the UN even after the outbreak of violence in 2013. The United States, which is responsible for drafting Security Council resolutions on Southern Sudan, initially refused to include an arms embargo on its draft resolutions, but changed its position in September 2015. Since then, however, the draft embargo resolutions submitted by the United States have not received the necessary nine votes and the unanimous decision of the five permanent member states of the Security Council. December 23, 2016, eight of the fifteen members of the UN Security Council abstained in drafting the embargo resolution, including Japan, Russia, China, Malaysia, Venezuela, Angola, Egypt, and Senegal.

Moreover, the members of this very Security Council and other countries are supplying weapons to Southern Sudan, as evidenced by the SIPRI data.




According to the SIPRI, in 2011-2016, Canada, the United States, South Africa, Russia delivered armament to South Sudan. In particular, over the past two years, it was Russia that was the largest supplier of arms to this African country. It can be seen from the table that aviation, armored vehicles, rockets, and engines were supplied.

According to Center for African Studies, Uganda, Egypt and Israel support government forces in Southern Sudan.

Uganda. In October 2014, the governments of South Sudan and Uganda concluded a military cooperation agreement, according to which Ugandans obtained the right to supply arms for the needs of the army of South Sudan. Ukrainian side carried out a number of deliveries of aviation equipment for the needs of the Ugandan side. Only then, Uganda independently supplied the aviation equipment, received from Ukraine, to the government of South Sudan. It should be emphasized that the territory of South Sudan housed the armed forces of Uganda (3,500 people, Bor district), who were invited by the legitimate government of the country to protect the citizens of Uganda.

Related: Amnesty International says Ukraine involved in supplying arms to South Sudan

Egypt. Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi maintains close and friendly contacts with President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir. In particular, in January 2017 they had a meeting. Egypt supports the legitimate government of South Sudan in order to put pressure on Ethiopia, which conducts an unfriendly policy towards Cairo. Military agreements and agreements on military assistance are concluded between South Sudan and Egypt.

Israel. Tel Aviv has close contacts with the Government of Southern Sudan, particularly in the field of military-technical cooperation. By 2016, Israeli companies supplied Juba with lethal weapons (mostly light infantry weapons, in particular Galil ACE assault rifles). However, defensive arms and equipment for radio electronic equipment for reconnaissance purposes are being delivered at present.

China and Sudan. London Conflict Armament Research group notes that in May 2016, government forces in South Sudan seized 1,300 sets of Chinese-made weapons from Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) rebels. Weapons were delivered to the rebels through the channels of the Sudanese special services, which have existed since 2012. Interestingly, Chinese companies do not hesitate to sell weapons to both sides of the conflict in South Sudan, even though two Chinese peacekeepers died in July of 2016 in Juba during mortar shelling. This is why Beijing did not support the UN resolution on the embargo.

At the same time, Sudan itself supplies weapons of its own for the SPLM-IO. 70% of the rebel weapons were produced in Sudan. Sudanese Military Industry Corporation produces a wide range of ammunition, small arms and artillery. These are mainly copies of Russian, Chinese and Iranian samples.

Ethiopia and Eritrea. Both countries are known for their armed support of various groups of insurgents in the territory of South Sudan. Territory of Ethiopia is used for shipments of Chinese weapons to both the armed forces of South Sudan and to the rebels from the SPLM-IO.

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It should also be noted that Ukraine has no restrictions on the arms trade with South Sudan even under the Arms Trade Treaty, to which Amnesty is appealing. Ukraine has signed the treaty, but not ratified it.

The report from Amnesty International was the third consecutive material in which Ukraine appears as a supplier of weapons to the war zones or potential conflict zones. The loudest scandal erupted around an article in the New York Times, the author of which accused the Ukrainian company "Yuzhmash" of delivering rocket engines to North Korea. But there was no evidence. But this article has caused considerable damage to the image of Ukraine.

Another journalists, investigating together with the OCCRP pointed to Ukraine's involvement in the sale of arms to the US at $ 17.3 million (for a further program of arming Syrian rebels). It is difficult to understand what is the fault of Ukraine, since weapons legally fell into the hands of the United States. And Ukraine does not bear any responsibility for it.

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Ukraine is a strong player in the global arms trade market, one of the ten largest suppliers. This market is very profitable, close and competitive. Therefore, we can say that at least some of the above materials are aimed at undermining the authority of Ukraine in the international arena as a reliable supplier of weapons. The motives for these actions can be different: from the banal desire to drive Ukraine out of the market or at least weaken its position before the destruction of the country's image against the backdrop of US decision to give Kyiv lethal weapons.

Also, we should not exclude the option of information warfare against a country. Export of weapons gives a significant percentage of foreign exchange earnings and the loss of external arms markets in the conditions of the ongoing conflict in Donbas and the unstable situation around the occupied Crimea can have negative economic and, most importantly, political consequences.

This is not the first time when such tactics are used against Ukraine. Here we can recall the previous scandals with the alleged supply of Kolchuga (passive sensor is an ESM system) to Iraq. Or let us recall Faina ship, which was seized by Somali pirates in September 2008 and where weapons of Ukrainian origin were found. According to the official position of Kyiv, these weapons were sent to Kenya under a contract. Ukraine was accused of supplying weapons to the rebels of South Sudan. These scandals did not have any legal consequences for Ukraine, but they damaged the image of the country.


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