Kiev deals in illegal arms – procurement agency founder

 Vladimir Pikuzo says his company is forced to scout murky parts of the world and pay extra to speculators to obtain critical weaponry

© Getty Images / Gennadiy Kravchenko

Kiev has been forced to seek alternative and sometimes illegal sources of weapons to make up for insufficient Western supplies, Ukraine’s Defense Procurement Agency founder and deputy director Vladimir Pikuzo revealed in an interview with the British news outlet The Times, published on Sunday.

What led Ukraine to start looking further afield for weapons was the fact that in the first few months of the conflict only some 60% of the weapons used by the country’s armed forces were supplied by the West, while the rest Kiev had to purchase through other sources.

The agency, which Pikuzo founded in July 2022, drawing funds from Ukraine’s defense budget, has the aim of securing more weapons for the military. The organization scours the world for arms that are not stockpiled or manufactured in NATO countries, including Soviet-era weaponry. However, Pikuzo notes that this market is “dominated by middlemen and speculators,” which makes some of the deals bordering on illegal. He cited a case when his agency attempted to buy ammunition from a country where exports are banned.

“We get categorical refusal, but then we receive a call with advice that we have to send a letter of intent to a particular intermediary company… we immediately receive permission to deliver this batch into Ukraine,” he recalled, noting that his agency “understands” the situation was likely illegal, but calling it an “acceptable risk.”


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“I will not name specific countries… but in many such countries, their corruption is our ally. In these countries, we sometimes do things that are prohibited by their own law,” he stated.

He also revealed that Kiev uses a network of Western officials and intelligence agencies to scout for weapons on the “gray” market and smuggle arms from countries that “refuse direct supplies to Ukraine.” However, he noted that this often leads to “pricing wars” and stretches the supply chain.

According to Pikuzo, the major problem with arms speculators is the price. According to The Times’ sources, the cost of some key weapons on the global market has spiked as much as sixfold since the start of the conflict. Pikuzo suggested that this is likely attributable to profiteering, calling the modern arms market “a weapons stock exchange.”

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Pikuzo complained that neither Ukraine’s budget nor Western aid is currently enough to cover the army’s needs. According to the most recent calculations, the US, UK, and EU have jointly provided roughly $72 billion worth of military aid to Kiev since the start of the conflict, with $60 billion more from Washington incoming, and, potentially, €40 ($43) billion from NATO. Pikuzo estimates that, given the current costs, Ukraine needs a total of up to $800 billion in order to achieve its objectives in the conflict.

Kiev has complained that NATO countries have not provided it with enough aid. Moscow has called the Western arms shipments “completely irresponsible,” warning that the actions of Kiev’s Western backers may have “dangerous consequences” and will only worsen the plight of the Ukrainian people.


(Source:; June 16, 2024;
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