The delivery of weapons to fighters in Ukraine has been officially confirmed by the Ministry of Defense, which emphasizes that the process was carried out in accordance with the laws. This answer came during Faktoje’s verification of the statement of the Russian chief diplomat who claims that weapons are circulating on the black market from Albania and Kosovo to Ukraine.

 Anila Hoxha 

The unprovoked Russian attack on Ukraine launched on February 24 of this year brought the issue of weapons on the black market into the spotlight once again. While the world was busy with sanctions against Russia, on March 14 the International Peace Institute (SIPRI) reported a 13 percent increase in arms imports to Europe compared to 2012-2016. Despite the war in Ukraine, SIPRI analyzes that this country’s arms imports were limited.

The deterioration of relations between most European states and Russia is an important driver of the increase in arms imports to Europe, especially for states that cannot meet their demands through arms production,said Pieter D. Wezeman, senior researcher at SIPRI.

More than five months into partially occupied Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly called on the West for more weapons. Allies among them the USA, Great Britain, France and many other countries, 44 in total,  responded not only with military support, but also with financial support.

On June 10, the Albanian government approved the decision to grant humanitarian aid of 1 million euros to Ukraine. But has Albania also contributed with military aid? The State Control Authority for the Export of Military Goods in Tirana (AKSHE in Albanian) (under the Ministry of Defense) admits officially for Faktoje, making sure the military secret is maintained, for the first time that Albania has also supported the Ukrainian government militarily. But no other details were given about what ammunition and weapons were sent from official Tirana.

The Republic of Albania, as a member of NATO, has given its contribution to the state of Ukraine, through the delivery of goods and military equipment. These goods and equipment are a gift from the government of the Republic of Albania to the government of Ukraine.

The international transfer (export) of these military goods was carried out through the Export License for Military Goods which was issued by the State Export Control Authority pursuant to Law 46/2018 dated 23.07.2018 “On State Control of International Transfers of Military Goods and of dual use items and technologies and respective by-laws issued for its implementation” – explains AKSHE to Faktoje.

Screenshot of the official response of AKSHE, Ministry of Defense

The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, on June 16, through the media, accused the West of the weapons it sends to Ukraine, including Albania and Kosovo, with the alibi that they are being sold on the black market.

“We have seen them circulating in Albania and Kosovo,” accused Lavrov. 

But in a similar reaction to Faktoje, the Foreign Ministry also rejects this claim.

“The statement of the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lavrov that “weapons that the Westerners send to Ukraine have already started to be sold on the black market, and that they have seen them circulating in Albania and Kosovo“, is one more invention in the wake of Russia’s propaganda – says the Albanian Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs.

Even the State Export Control Authority rejects such accusation, recalling the law on the international transfer of goods.

Referring to the export to the state of Ukraine, the military goods have been taken over by the authorities of the Ukrainian government, who have officially confirmed through the official document of the receipt of the goods, excluding any possibility that these military goods have ended up on the market of black  

Finally, we inform you that the State Export Control Authority (AKSHE) exercises its activity in implementing the legislation in the field of international transfers of military goods, issuing the relevant export license for military goods, and upon their transfer it has verified that they have reached the intended destination” – says for Faktoje, the institution that deals with such issues.

Such confirmation is also made by the former chief of the general staff of the army, Maksim Malaj, who during a statement for Faktoje, recalls other military support given by our country, such as during the time when he led the army, it was the aid to Afghanistan.

Albania, like any other NATO allied country, guarantees not only financial aid, but also military assistance to countries whose sovereignty is threatened. It is a fair operation and there is strict protocol regarding the supply of ammunition and weapons. The same was done during the time when I was Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces with Afghanistan, where we sent both troops and ammunition, even to train the Afghan forces, we attached a group called the OMLT team“- explains Mr. Malaj.

However, on the Interpol website, the first appeal on groups that will exploit the war in Ukraine was made during a meeting held on March 22. Head of Interpol, Jurgen Stock said:

Criminals use every opportunity to increase their illegal profits, and not all of those who flocked to the Ukrainian border last month are doing so with good intentions.”

Quoted by the media, Jürgen Stock predicted that once the conflict ends, criminal groups will circulate the war weapons in the black market.

When the guns fall silent in Ukraine, the illegal guns will start to be heard. We know this from many other theaters of conflict. Even now, criminals have started to talk about them, as a possible object of benefits“- says Stock.

Earlier in February, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stated that Ukraine has recruited mercenaries from Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina to be sent to Donbas:

“There are reports that mercenaries are being recruited in Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina to throw Russia off balance and send them, among other things, to Donbass. We are checking this now.

For this accusation, there was an immediate reaction on Twitter from the Foreign Minister, Olta Xhaçka, who clarified that there are no Albanian mercenaries in Ukraine:

This is a lie that Moscow continues to repeat without shame! That said, Albania stands with Ukraine and will continue to work with all allies and partners to help end Russia’s unprovoked aggression against the people of Ukraine. May God bless them!” 

Sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Faktoje that this institution called the Russian ambassador in Tirana to ask for an explanation of Lavrov’s statement. “This thing has not been made public“, clarified one of the participants in this meeting who did not give explanations on what was discussed.

*Photo taken from the web

*This content is produced as part of the regional initiative Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Hub