The Russian armaments manufacturer Uralvagonzavod has reason to celebrate: In its production facility, two state-of-the-art artillery pieces are currently being dismantled, analyzed and possibly replicated soon. The two missiles were actually intended for Ukraine. The French president wanted to help Ukraine in repelling the Russian invasion. But then the state-of-the-art weapons ended up in Russian hands through an intermediary – apparently through corrupt Ukrainian military officials.
While Ukraine is appealing to Western governments to make swift decisions on deploying heavy weapons, parts of the Ukrainian army seem to be making a deal out of it.
“Thank you, Macron, we’re paying,” French lawyer Régis de Castelnau sarcastically commented on the incident on his official Twitter account. A Caesar howitzer costs about 7 million euros.
A few days later, the Russian company Uralvagonzavod replied to the French lawyer through its official Telegram profile: “Hello, Mr. Regis. Please convey our thanks to President Macron for donating the SPGs. Of course, this material isn’t top notch… not like our Msta-S! But still it will be useful. Send more – we’ll pick them up.” The Msta-S are self-propelled howitzers developed in Russia.
Sebastian Levi, correspondent and analyst for BulgarianMilitary.com, denies that Macron’s Caesar self-propelled howitzers were captured by the Russians, as initially thought. Rather, they are said to have been sold on the black market, through a middleman, by the Ukrainians themselves to the Russians. Donbass insiders also say so. The acquisition must have come very cheaply to the Russians. There is talk of just 118,000 euros per piece.
This is another indication of massive corruption within Ukraine, including in the military. According to BulgarianMilitary.com, this is not the first time the military has engaged in illegal arms trafficking for maximum profit. There is said to have been another case at the beginning of June in which anti-tank systems were sold via the dark web.
Interpol is said to be aware of illegal arms sales by Ukrainians to Russians. Allegedly not even the US secret services know exactly what is happening with the weapons.
The two howitzers should be of great value to Russia. Presumably they will now be taken apart, analyzed in detail and then most likely copied. In the event of a long war, they could also be used against Ukraine.
BulgarianMilitary.com speaks of a “shame for the Ukrainian authorities involved: Firstly, a French artillery battalion was deprived of its weapons in order to send them to Ukraine, and Morocco will have to wait even longer for its Caesar self-propelled howitzers”. That could lead to human losses in Africa because the purchased weapons are missing. “For such a sale to go ahead, strong corruption is needed, especially in the military leadership and lower officer ranks of the Ukrainian army.”