That some of the weapons sent to Ukraine ended up in the hands of Hamas militants probably has more to do with corruption than deliberate deliveries, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday.
“I doubt that there were deliveries of weapons from Ukraine, but I have no doubt there were leaks of weapons from Ukraine,” Putin explained at a press conference in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek.
“We know the level of corruption in Ukraine is very high. The black market arises when there are many who want to buy, and in Ukraine there are many who want to sell,” he added, noting that Ukrainians were “definitely selling” weapons on the international market through countries in Africa and the Middle East.
“Why, they even sell [weapons] to Russia, and if they can sell them to Russia, nothing surprises me anymore,” the Russian president said.
The issue of Hamas using weapons the US and its allies had sent to Ukraine was first raised by former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who claimed such equipment was “being actively used in Israel.” Kiev’s military intelligence responded by accusing Russia of sending Western weapons captured in Ukraine to Hamas in a “false flag” operation designed to make Kiev look bad to its backers.
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied Medvedev’s weapons claim, but rejected the Ukrainian insinuations of Russian involvement in the Hamas attack as “complete nonsense.”
Hamas militants fired hundreds of rockets into Israel on Saturday, followed by raids into nearby Israeli settlements, villages, and towns. Israeli authorities said more than 1,300 people died in the surprise attack. West Jerusalem has responded by declaring a “war” against Gaza.
Speaking about the escalating conflict, Putin noted that Israel is facing an unprecedented attack but that its response has been “quite brutal.”
He also offered Russian mediation, given that Moscow had “very good relations” with Israel, as well as traditional ties with the Palestinians, “so no one can suspect that we want to play some kind of games.”