Flashback: Obama Pushed Bill That Helped Destroy Tons Of Ukrainian Ammunition, Small Arms And Anti-Aircraft Missiles

Flashback: Senator Obama Pushed Bill That Helped Destroy More Than 15,000 Tons Of Ammunition, 400,000 Small Arms And 1,000 Anti-Aircraft Missiles In Ukraine – Daily Mail

As a U.S. senator, Barack Obama won $48 million in federal funding to help Ukraine destroy thousands of tons of guns and ammunition – weapons which are now unavailable to the Ukrainian army as it faces down Russian President Vladimir Putin during his invasion of Crimea.

In August 2005, just seven months after his swearing-in, Obama traveled to Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine with then-Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar, touring a conventional weapons site.

The two met in Kiev with President Victor Yushchenko, making the case that an existing Cooperative Threat Reduction Program covering the destruction of nuclear weapons should be expanded to include artillery, small arms, anti-aircraft weapons, and conventional ammunition of all kinds.

After a stopover in London, the senators returned to Washington and declared that the U.S. should devote funds to speed up the destruction of more than 400,000 small arms, 1,000 anti-aircraft missiles, and more than 15,000 tons of ammunition.

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Photographs from the trip show Obama inspecting a plant where Soviet-era artillery shells and shoulder-fired missiles were collecting dust, leftovers dumped in Ukraine after the USSR withdrew from Eastern bloc nations after the once-mighty communist nation fell apart.

The United Nations had already identified some 7 million small arms and light weapons, and 2 million tons of conventional ammunition, warehoused in more than 80 weapons depots spread across the country.

Many of the artillery shells shown in photographs from Donetsk, multiple weapons experts told MailOnline, would be the same types of ammunition required to repel advancing Russian divisions as they advanced to the west, had they not been destroyed.

Two experts said the ammunition, particularly small-arms rounds, would have been useful to train Ukraine’s armed forces and million-strong reserves.

‘Vast stocks of conventional munitions and military supplies have accumulated in Ukraine,’ Obama said in am August 30, 2005 statement from Donetsk. ‘Some of this stockpile dates from World War I and II, yet most dates from Cold War buildup and the stocks left behind by Soviet withdrawals from East Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungry and Poland.’

‘We need to eliminate these stockpiles for the safety of the Ukrainian people and people around world, by keeping them out of conflicts around the world.’

More than a year later, President George W. Bush signed into law a proposal authored by Obama and Lugar.

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Obama said then that the existing Cooperative Threat Reduction Program ‘has effectively disposed of thousands of weapons of mass destruction, but we must do far more to keep deadly conventional weapons like anti-aircraft missiles out of the hands of terrorists.’

Much of the Ukrainian small-arms supply was ultimately exported, not scrapped, by a Yushchenko regime that chose revenue from arms dealing over the cost of melting down metal.

In 2008 the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that between 2004 and 2007, the Ukrainian Export Control Service told the UN that it sent 721,777 small arms and light weapons to 27 different countries.

The United States was the top recipient, with more than 260,000 of those weapons, followed by the UK and Libya, which each imported more than 101,000.

That flood of weapons exports has continued, with annual export records showing hundreds of thousands of new exports each year, covering everything from pistols and carbine rifles to heavy machine guns and anti-tank weapons.

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But while today’s 130,000-strong standing Ukrainian military isn’t short on AK-47s, Russian troops have met little to no large-scale resistance from armored divisions or heavy artillery as they steamrolled their way into Crimea.

Some of that was Ukraine’s own doing – it sold 320 tanks to Pakistan in the 1990s, for instance – but Obama and Lugar accelerated the pace of the country’s arms liquidation.

While the Ukrainian army seems to have been careful to avoid provoking an even larger conflict, it’s impossible to know whether Putin would have behaved differently in the face of columns of heavy weapons that once belonged to the Soviet Union in whose KGB he held a high-ranking position.

Sky News video broadcast on Tuesday showed Russian troops firing automatic weapons over the heads of apparently unarmed Ukrainian Air Force personnel near a contested airfield in Crimea.

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