Wed Feb 25, 2015 8:53AM
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has reportedly reached an agreement for the purchase of weapons from the Persian Gulf country of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is itself one of the largest purchasers of US arms in the Middle East.
Speaking Tuesday at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi, Poroshenko did not, however, specify the volume or the type of weaponry Ukraine would purchase from the UAE but said they would help Kiev protect its territory from the pro-Russia forces.
The arms deal, according to press reports, was struck with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. However, UAE officials have not yet commented on the deal.
The Ukrainian president said following a meeting with top UAE officials that military technical-cooperation agreements were signed to bolster Ukraine’s arms industry, which he said would secure several export orders.
He further described the deals as “extremely important so we have the money to modernize our armed forces.”
Kiev has been calling on its Western backers for months to provide it with lethal weapons but has been running into resistance, particularly from Germany, France and the UK, which fear an escalation and spread of the Ukrainian conflict.
(Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko takes a selfie with an Emirati media representative at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference, IDEX, in Abu Dhabi on February 24, 2015.)
Meanwhile, former US diplomat James Jatras was cited in an RT report as saying, “The UAE supplying weapons to Ukraine could be part of a US covert operation.”
“This discussion in Washington about supplying weapons has been going on for some time. Usually that indicates that some kind of a covert program is already in operation and that we already are supplying some weapons directly,” said Jatras as quoted in the report.
He emphasized that it is difficult to comprehend that the UAE would sell its mostly US-made weapons to Ukraine “without a green light from Washington.”
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov earlier censured potential US plans to supply weapons and ammunition to Kiev as a “major blow” to the Minsk truce agreements, vowing that Moscow “will have to respond appropriately” in face of “such provocative actions.”
Ukraine’s warring sides including the government forces and pro-Russians reached a ceasefire deal, dubbed Minsk II, at a summit attended by the leaders of Russia, France, and Germany in the Belarusian capital on February 11 and 12.
Nearly 5,700 people have been killed and close to a million have been displaced since the armed conflict began in eastern Ukraine in April 2014.