Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 13

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry yesterday denied media reports on a Ukrainian sale of fifty T-55 tanks to war-torn Angola. Such reports seek to disguise the real seller’s identity and shift the blame, the ministry’s chief spokesman Oleh Strekal said in Kyiv. Strekal also expressed concern over media reports about Ukrainian mercenaries fighting on the rebel side in Sierra-Leone. The spokesman recalled the fact that Ukraine is an early signatory to the international convention on banning the recruitment, training and use of mercenaries. Kyiv has taken serious steps to enforce the convention in Ukraine even though the terms of the document are not yet in effect, Strekal said. Ukraine’s criminal code stipulates imprisonment for up to twelve years, first, for recruitment, training and financing of mercenaries and, second, for participation of Ukrainian citizens in conflicts abroad for material gain.

At the United Nations in New York yesterday, Ukrainian ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko assured the UN Security Council’s chairmanship in writing that Ukraine supports UN curbs on arms deliveries to war-fighting parties in Africa, and that his government enforces the antimercenary measures. Yelchenko’s letter expressed the Ukrainian government’s concern about the recent allegations and asked foreign governments not to give them credence (UNIAN, InfoBank, Itar-Tass, January 19). Poorly substantiated reports on Ukrainian tank sales and mercenaries in Angola and Sierra-Leone appeared in several newspapers in Black Africa in late December and early January, and surfaced again last week in the “Johannesburg Mail and Guardian” and “The Times” of London. –VS