Arms Watch: Serbia's mortars to Ukraine used against Donbass, Vucic denies

Arms Watch: Serbia's mortars to Ukraine used against Donbass, Vucic denies

Arms Watch: Serbia's mortars to Ukraine used against Donbass, Vucic denies Izvor: Facebook / Dilyana Gaytandzhieva

Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, an investigative reporter with the Arms Watch, said the documents which were leaked to her media, showed that in 2016 three foreign governments ordered and purchased 60 mm M73HE mortar shells from Serbia's ammunition factory Krusik: the US Government, Saudi Arabia and UAE.

Before, she published that Serbia-made ammunition ended in the hands of Islamic extremists in Yemen.

 "Saudi Arabia does not officially export weapons to Ukraine, according to publicly available data. The US Government officially allowed exports of lethal weapons to Ukraine a year later, in December 2017. The UAE, however, did export weapons to Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials," Gaytandzhieva said.

Vucic denied Arms Watch report, saying his country had never sold any mines to Ukraine, but to Poland, and that the arms export was done legally. He talked to reporters after the meeting of National Security Council called following the spy affair involving Russian and Serbia's intelligence officers. He said that information and photo of the mines came from "intelligence sewage," from those who want to undermine Serbia and especially its arms industry. "We'll continue to make and sell arms legally," he said, answering only two reporters' questions posted by the state RTS TV and state Tanjug news agency.

 She added that "documents reveal that in 2016 the UAE purchased a total of 120,000 pieces of mortar shells manufactured by Krusik. Among them such 60 mm M73 HE mortar shells as those found in Donbass."

Gaytandzhieva said that the exporter was Serbia's private GIM company, "which according to a leaked GIM's letter to Krusik, was represented by Serbia's Interior Minister's father Branko Stefanovic."

Both his son and Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic, who first said Branko Stefanovic was just an employee at Krusik, later denied he had any links to the factory, despite the document obtained by BIRN showing his name on the list of Krusik's visitors from GIM.

"Documents published by Arms Watch reveal that weapons manufactured by Krusik and exported by the GIM company to Saudi Arabia had ended up with Islamic State terrorists in Yemen. The company, according to the leaked documents, was represented by the Minister's father. Three days after Arms Watch broke the story, on 18 September, Serbia's Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic arrested the Krusik whistleblower Aleksandar Obradovic," Gaytandzhieva wrote.

She added that instead of "investigating the arms trafficking to terrorists in Yemen, Serbia's prosecutors launched an investigation into the leak from Krusik and charged the whistleblower with revealing trade secrets. His arrest caused a wave of protests in Serbia, and he was released from prison and put under house arrest."

"Aleksandar Obradovic is still under house arrest while those who traffic arms go free," the reporters said.

In the meantime, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), founded in 2015 as a watchdog of the European Charter on Freedom of the Press, tweeted an alert about Obradovic being under house arrest.

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