A170414 gun 1 n almost sensational story has recently been circulated in the Ukrainian media reporting that the aggressor country of Russia became Ukraine’s biggest arms market in 2016. The story is based on arms exports statistics released yearly by the authoritative Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). But a detailed analysis of SIPRI’s 2016 report insofar as it pertains to defense-industrial and procurement relations between Ukraine and Russia raises doubts over the accuracy and veracity of the reported data and so it puts doubt about the credibility of the organization that released it.



It should be noted, in the first place, that the President of Ukraine, on August 27, 2014, signed into law his Executive Order No 691/2014 to enact the Ukraine National Security and Defense Council Resolution of August 27, 2014, titled "On measures to boost the effectiveness of national military-technical policies". Clause 7 Sub-clause 1 of the resolution puts a ban on the export of military items and dual-use products for military end-use or end-users from Ukraine to Russia.

Not a single company or organization in Ukraine has been officially authorized to export aforementioned products to Russian users since the resolution became effective, and authorized government agencies have consistently pursued a policy ban on the export of military products to the aggressor country. Not one Ukrainian company has been authorized to export these products to Russian customers, and the enforcement of laws relating thereto has been closely monitored by authorized agencies and law enforcers.

Considering the preceding comments, the Ukrainian media-distributed information quoting the highly regarded international institution has put Ukraine into an awkward situation, to say the least. After all, it’s a theater of the absurd where one provides weapons to his enemy while simultaneously requesting his international partners to provide military assistance to deal with this same enemy. And the Kremlin might be right when it describes Ukraine in terms of a “failed state”.

A detailed analysis of the reported statistics data relating to Ukraine-Russia military technology cooperation raises serious doubts as to its relevance and accuracy, hence the credibility of the Stockholm Institute, who -- either through negligence or through the bias of its employees toward Ukraine – doesn’t just discredit the standing of individual Ukrainian businesses, but also the international reputation of the State of Ukraine.

According to the data provided in the latest SIPRI report (which is publicly available on the official website of this institution), which has been published happily by some Ukrainian media outlets, Ukraine exported USD 169 million worth of defense products to Russia in 2016, and by doing so it has made its utmost enemy country into the biggest buyer of its military weapons and equipment systems during the reported period (see Fig. 1).


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Here a perfectly sensible question arises – given that Ukraine has banned arms exports to Russia – How it could happen that the reported worth of defense-related products could be exported from Ukraine to Russia over the past two years. If one looks closely at the reported data about the Ukrainian companies that exported their military weapons and equipment systems to Russia and about the timeframes of the export contracts thereto related, one can easily see the logics that the (seemingly) authoritative international institution employed to compile the statistics data (see Fig. 2). But this doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that the conclusions it made are correct.


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First, questions are arising as to what periods of time are covered by the SIPRI report as it pertains to defense-related exports from Ukraine and Russia. The report is supposed to provide arms exports statistics for 2016, but the reported data actually includes export deals completed prior to the start of the military crisis between Ukraine and Russia in 2014.
Second, the report contains false data on the status of the export contracts with the Russian customers specified therein.

In particular, it ranks Zaporizhia’s Motor-Sich as the biggest Ukrainian defense product exporter to Russia for the year reviewed, with 164 engines for Yak-130 trainer aircraft exported in 2016. Here SIPRI notes that all of the engines were “probably” (sic!) delivered to the Russian customer prior to 2014. So the questions to answer are: When exactly did Motor Sich deliver these engines to the Russian customer, in 2016 or prior to 2014? And does the USD 169 million worth of arms exports from Ukraine to Russia reported for 2016 include the AI-222 engine deal?

Motor-Sich says it has complied with the ban on defense-related exports to Russia since 2014. "Motor Sich works within the relevant legal framework, and it hasn’t carried out military technology cooperation with Russia since the government imposed a ban on cooperation thereof. It was back in June 2014 when the Company terminated deliveries of AI-222 engines for the Yak-130 trainer aircraft to Russia; and it didn’t deliver AI-222 engines to Russia in 2015, 2016 or 2017", the Company said in a statement.

The situation looks even more absurd when it comes to Antonov airplanes. According to SIPRI’s report, Antonov allegedly supplied 17 An-140-100 airplanes to a Russian customer during the period from 2012 to 2016, and 11 An-148-100E airplanes during 2013-2016.
But, again, as mentioned above, Ukrainian companies have not been engaged in military technology cooperation programs with Russia since 2014, and it was prior to 2014 that the airplanes, if any, could be delivered. It turns out from the report that it took respectively two years and one year for Ukraine to build and deliver the 17 An-140-100 aircraft and 11 An-148-100E aircraft to Russia. If guided by common sense, however, it’s obvious that manufacturing 28 airplanes of the types such as An-140-100 and An-148-100E over a two-year period, even with full availability of requisite financing and human resources, is a very challenging endeavor even for an industry much bigger and powerful than Antonov.

Second, the fact is that not one airplane of the An-140 or An-148 types has been built and delivered to Russia during 2016 and the entire period reviewed by the SIPRI report. Russia currently operates a fleet of airplanes of the aforementioned types, which were all built by Russian industries, specifically by Samara Aviation Plant Aviakor (An-140) and Voronezh Aircraft Building Association (An-148).
Third, did the USD 169 million worth of defense-related exports from Ukraine to Russia as reported by SIPRI for 2016 include the sale of the mentioned airplanes (which actually never took place)?

Also of interest is the SIPRI-reported data relating to the gas turbine engines DS-71 and DT-59 allegedly exported to Russia by Mykolayiv’s Zorya-Mashproekt. More specifically, according to the report, the Ukrainian company exported two DT-59 engines and as many DS-71 engines to a Russian customer in 2015 and 2016, respectively. This information has been denied in an official statement by Zorya-Mashproekt. "We notify that an export deal for three M7H1 systems that included the aforementioned gas turbines was signed with Baltic Yantar Shipyard Company in February 2012. The initial delivery of two units of the system took place in 2013, and the final delivery under this deal took place in February 2014”, the Company said.
Zorya-Mashproekt furthermore reported that it signed an export contract for similar products with this same customer in October 2012, with deliveries scheduled between December 2014 and December 2015. This contract was later terminated due to the imposition of the ban on defense-related exports to Russia following its military aggression in Ukraine’s Crimea and Donbas regions.

Here, it should be noted that the denial was prompted by the release of a similar report by SIPRI for 2015. So it turns out that the authoritative Stockholm’s institution simply ignored an official statement of denial by the Ukrainian company, and compiled its report for 2016 using same false data, again.
Based on this, we again reiterate the question: Did SIPRI include the value of the gas turbine engines delivered back in 2014 into its 2016 arms exports statistics for Ukraine?

So if we sum it up so far, it goes to show that the defense deliveries from Ukraine to Russia as stated by SIPRI in its report for 2016 actually never took place. So Russia and with it the USD 169 million worth of defense-related exports should be deleted from SIPRI’s 2016 report insofar as it relates to Ukraine.
Regarding the 2016 arms exports statistics for Ukraine as reported by the Stockholm’s institution, it’s currently hard to say whether it stemmed from the sheer negligence or deliberate manipulation (it doesn’t seem too important).

There are a few lessons to be learnt from SIPRI’s 2016 report. First, any kind of data, even if it has been reported by a (seemingly) credible institution, needs to be checked and verified. As seen from the above, nobody’s perfect, and even highly authoritative institutions (and those that are only seemingly so) are prone to error.

Second, the Ukrainian media should have checked and reviewed the “incriminating” information on Ukraine prior to making it public. Because it might turn out that this information is total lie, or sourced from seemingly “non-involved” stakeholders.
Third and finally, blind reliance on information supplied by an institution, no matter how highly regarded, can easily play a cruel joke. Just like this one time.


Igor Fedyk

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