The Black Market of Western Weapons in Ukraine – Refuted Fake of the Russian Propaganda

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The spreading of disinformation about weapons and ammunition supplied to Ukraine by partner states is one of the main directions of Russian propaganda efforts aimed at Western audiences.

According to the propaganda narrative, Ukraine has turned into a large black market for Western weapons, which uncontrollably fall into the hands of various illegal organizations, including gangs and terrorists. Among the “clients of Ukrainian arms barons” invented by propagandists are Mexican drug cartels, Hamas, African regimes, etc.

Unfortunately, this fake narrative took root in Western public opinion and began to live a life of its own. Thus, at the beginning of June of this year, Spanish law enforcement officers from the Civil Guard (Guarda Civil) spread the message that Spanish drug traffickers committed shootings with Western weapons that were supplied to Ukraine. The claim was based on unverified anonymous sources that appear to be an organized disinformation campaign by Spanish law enforcement.

The purpose of these fakes is to discredit the idea of ​​Western support for Ukraine, to create a “failed state” image, and to convince all that there is a threat to international security because of the supply of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine. As a result, propaganda seeks to weaken and defeat Ukraine.

On June 18, 2024, the Global Initiative to Combat Organized Crime released a report on arms market trends in the context of Russian aggression against Ukraine. This document is based on an in-depth study of reports about weapons in Ukraine, legal and illegal markets, interviews with military personnel, law enforcement officers, and sources in criminal groups, and study of a specialized segment in the DarkNet and Telegram.

READ ALSO: Weapons under control. 10 points to prove that Western weapons are in good hands in Ukraine

The report convincingly debunked the narrative about “mass smuggling of Western weapons from Ukraine.” The Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security has reviewed this report and provided key points:

  • Despite that any war carries the risk of an increase in the international arms trade from war zones, Ukraine shows an admirable ability to stem these trends.
  • Ukraine has introduced strict control and accounting of weapons and ammunition in general and Western logistical aid in particular. This control makes it impossible for Western weapons to flow abroad and even within Ukraine itself.
  • In Ukraine, every weapon’s loss during the battle, or in the case of the capture of any territory by the Russians, is registered. This means that if such weapons end up in the West (as well as anywhere on the globe), it is the work of Russians, not Ukrainians, and this can be proven.
  • As a result, not a single fact of the organized sale of arms by Ukrainians abroad to EU countries and even more NATO-style arms, was confirmed.
  • Moreover, there are no criminal groups or prominent figures in the criminal world capable of organizing arms trade in Ukraine.
  • Organized arms trade is impossible due to the huge number of roadblocks and border points that restrict movement.
  • Criminal groups in the EU use weapons stolen from their countries, illegally imported from the Western Balkans, modified gas and traumatic weapons, and recently even printed on 3D printers.
  • The illegal arms market in Ukraine is exclusively internal and includes mainly unregistered weapons for self-defence and Russian unaccounted-for trophy weapons and ammunition.

This confirms that Ukraine and Ukrainians demonstrate high discipline in the field of arms and ammunition control, especially that coming from partner countries. Even despite the objective risks, such as a prolonged war, an increase in the number of people who are good at weapons, and the psychological traumatization of some of these people due to the horrors of Russian aggression.

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