, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 8 – The purchase of military equipment from Ukraine caused a storm from the American government, following conflicting information on the destination of T-72 tanks two years ago.
A cable from the US embassy from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, says the issue was raised by the then acting Assistant Secretary Vann Van Diepen in July.
“Van Diepen recalled that when the US had raised with Ukraine in July 2008 that an additional shipment of T-72 tanks, BM-1 GRAD armoured vehicles, small arms, and other military equipment planned for a late June or early July shipment to Kenya was being purchased by the Kenyan Ministry of State for Defence for South Sudan, Ukraine had assured us the arms were for the Government of Kenya.”
The cable said Ukraine had informed the US that it had received an end-user certificate from the Kenyan government and receipts acknowledging the arrival of the earlier tank shipment.
“Subsequent to our discussions, the M/V Faina, which was carrying another weapons shipment from Ukraine, was hijacked, and it became clear that cargo was also intended for South Sudan.”
The cable continues to say that Valeriy Lysenko, from Ukraine’s Export Control Service, said that the T-72 tank shipment was intended for Kenya. He said Ukraine had not transferred any military equipment to South Sudan. All of Ukraine’s contracts were checked.
Van Diepen gave the Ukrainian side a copy of the contract that clearly lists the GOSS, and asked if the Government of Ukraine side maintained that the export was for Kenya. “Lysenko held to this line, questioned the authenticity of the contract, and asked if the US had any better evidence.”
“Van Diepen, regretting that the GOU had forced him to do so, showed the Ukrainians cleared satellite imagery of T-72 tanks unloaded in Kenya, transferred to railyards for onward shipment, and finally in South Sudan. This led to a commotion on the Ukrainian side.”
The assistant secretary maintained that he appreciated that the two sides had different export control policies, as was their sovereign right. “But not being told the truth was something the United States did not expect from a strategic partner. There was nothing for Ukraine to gain from lying and a lot to lose, he cautioned.
The cable says since South Sudan was on the US terrorism list, the US would have to consider whether to impose sanctions over the transfer; a factor in US deliberations would be whether the Government of Ukraine told the truth.
“ Lysenko said that Ukraine would study the US information and he asserted that Ukraine only had a relationship with Kenya, and did not have a relationship with South Sudan.”
Ukraine said it could not be held responsible for the actions of a third country.
“This matter was a common problem for the US and Ukraine to resolve. He said Ukraine’s special agencies might need to get involved to find out what had happened. Ukraine promised to study the situation in the light of a partner relationship so that the US would know that Ukraine is a reliable partner.”