MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that some Western weapons supplied to Ukraine were finding their way to the Middle East through the illegal arms market and being sold to the Taliban.

“Now they say: weapons are getting into the Middle East from Ukraine. Well of course they are because they are being sold,” Putin said. “And they are being sold to the Taliban and from there they go onto wherever.”

Since Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year, Western powers have sent Ukraine tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons in an attempt to defeat Russian troops.

Ukraine says it keeps tight control over any weapons supplied to it, but some Western security officials have raised concerns and the United States has asked Ukraine to do more to tackle the broader issue of corruption.

In June 2022, the head of Interpol, Jürgen Stock, warned that some of the advanced weapons sent to Ukraine would end up in the hands of organised crime groups.

A report about the Ukraine war and the illegal arms trade by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime said in March that there was “currently no substantial outflow of weapons from the Ukrainian conflict zone.

“However, every precedent suggests that, especially if the threat is not addressed proactively and imaginatively, when the current war ends, Ukraine’s battlefields could and will become the new arsenal of anarchy, arming everyone from insurgents in Africa to gangsters in the streets of Europe,” the report said.

The eight biggest Western donors to Ukraine led by the United States have made military commitments to Ukraine totalling at least 84 billion euros ($90 billion), according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, which tracks donors.

US military support includes 160 155mm howitzers, 109 Bradley fighting vehicles, more than 111 million rounds of small arms ammunition and 38 high mobility artillery rocket systems.

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