Report Claims Rebels Get Few Weapons from Russia

A colleague sent me the following report from Armament Research Services; Research Report #3: Raising Red Flags. It examines, in exhaustive detail, with many photographs, and much specialised information, the weaponry used by both sides in the Ukraine civil war. (It is even-handed and informed but, personally, I could do with less of the “pro-Russian separatist fighter” stuff. You don’t have to be “pro-Russian” to decide you don’t support people who are shelling you, call you “Moskal” and worship Bandera).

As we know, for months NATO, Washington and Western media outlets have been telling us that Russia is providing significant quantities of weapons the the rebels in East Ukraine. This report does not support that assertion. Neither, by the way, does it have evidence of significant outside supplies to the Kiev side.

The principal conclusion of the researchers is that while some weaponry from Russia probably has got to the rebels, most of their weaponry comes from captures or from existing bases and weapons caches (see “Where the Rebels Find their Weapons”).

This is their conclusion

ARES has assessed that it is very likely that pro-Russian separatist forces have received some level of support from one or more external parties, however the level of state complicity in such activity remains unclear. Despite the presence of arms, munitions, and armoured vehicles designed, produced, and allegedly even sourced from Russia, there remains no direct evidence of Russian government complicity in the trafficking of arms into the area (Reuters, 2014c). The majority of arms and munitions documented in service with separatist forces have evidently been appropriated from the Ukrainian security forces and their installations within Ukraine. The 1970s and 1980s vintage ex-Ukrainian military inventory is likely to continue to predominate. The various older and expedient types of arms and munitions outlined in this report should not be taken to mean that separatist forces are ill-equipped. Some of the more capable arms and munitions available to them have been outlined. However, ageing light weapons systems and larger ordnance, along with MANPADS and other SAM systems, will all retain a niche amongst pro-Russian forces in Ukraine for as long as government forces maintain their overwhelming advantage in air power and armour. The Ukrainian regime has access to more powerful weapon systems, in greater numbers, and with a more robust logistical chain than separatist forces could hope to muster without overt support from a foreign power. As it stands, the limited but noteworthy external support pro-Russian separatist forces have received has not proven significant enough to turn the tide in their favour.