Saturday, February 26, 2005

Poroshenko Orders Inventory of Country's Weaponry

KIEV, Ukraine -- A top defense official ordered officials Feb. 25 to take an inventory of all military weaponry and equipment in Ukraine, just days after two anti-aircraft missile systems were discovered missing from a military depot.

Petro Poroshenko, recently appointed chief of Ukraine's Defense and Security Council, gave the military six weeks to perform a "total inventory," noting that it would be an "extremely difficult task" given the size of the country's weapons stores.



He said that once the inventory was completed, he would be "absolutely public and open" about the circumstances surrounding the disappearance discovered Tuesday of two SA-7 Grail missile systems from a depot in Ukraine's southern Crimean peninsula.

The Defense Ministry said an investigation had been launched into the missing systems - also called Strela-3M, or Arrow.

The heat-seeking Strela missiles are produced in Russia, Eastern Europe, China, Egypt, former Yugoslav republics and elsewhere and are the anti-aircraft weapon of choice for guerillas, rebel forces and terrorists worldwide.

Ukraine's new government has been trying to clamp down on illicit weapons deals that flourished under former President Leonid Kuchma. Last month, a key Ukrainian lawmaker revealed the secret indictments or arrests of at least six arms dealers accused of selling Ukraine's nuclear-capable cruise missiles to Iran and China.

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