Saudi Arabia and the United States continue to pump the Syrian opposition with Bulgarian weapons
After loud arms supply scandals for Syrian militants, the governments of Bulgaria and Serbia are in no hurry to publish annual reports on arms exports in 2017. If the 2016 reports of the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications of Serbia were publicly available in May, and the Interdepartmental Commission on Export Control and Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Weapons of the Ministry of Economy of Bulgaria is in early September, then there are still no reports for the last year.Eadailyhowever, we managed to find the truncated Bulgarian report. It does not contain detailed data, but there are general figures that allow us to create an overall picture.
In mid-August, the Bulgarian government approved a report on the export, transit and import of weapons, and for approval by the parliament it was placed without applications on the website of the National Assembly. The document says that in 2017, the actual export of arms from the country amounted to 1.218 billion euros. This is 21.8% or 218 million euros more than last year. At the same time, judging by the location of the countries in the list, Saudi Arabia took the lead in importing Bulgarian arms. “Including export sales to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the USA, India and Algeria,” the report says.
Recall that in 2016, arms exports from Bulgaria amounted to 1 billion euros and the largest importer was Iraq (259 million euros). The second and third places were taken by Saudi Arabia (239 million euros) and the United States (98 million euros). In 2017, obviously, Riyadh significantly increased purchases of Soviet-made weapons that are produced in the country. As EADaily has already reported, the army of the kingdom does not use them, but supplies them to militants in Syria and Yemen. USA - to Syria.
The report on the website of the Bulgarian parliament states that the main types of weapons exported remain the same. These are: small arms, grenade launchers and ammunition (missiles, rockets ...).
The Bulgarian newspaper Trud wrote in 2017 that the main producer of weapons, Vazovsky Machine Building Plant (VMZ), increased ammunition production in the first 9 months of 2017 by almost a third to 400 million leva ($ 250 million) and I had time to fulfill contracts for another 130 million leva ($ 81 million).
Bulgaria is one of the largest suppliers and manufacturers of Soviet-made weapons and ammunition for Syrian militants. Deliveries are made through Saudi Arabia and the United States. Only this year, according to open data, "Vazovsky Machine-Building Plant" and the company "Dunarit" shipped 23 tons of ammunition to the American division of the British corporation Chemring Military Products.
Basically - Grad missiles and grenades for anti-tank grenade launchers. Chemring Military Products is one of the four official arms purchasers of non-NATO standards for US partners in the fight against the "Islamic state" banned in Russia in Iraq and Syria. These include Syrian militant groups. Last year, purchasers received contracts worth up to $ 500 million.
The report on the website of the National Assembly cites the transfer of weapons through the territory of the country from other countries in 2017.Serbia, Belarus and Romania, which also produce Soviet-made armaments and acquire it in Saudi Arabia and the United States, carried out transit shipments through Bulgaria in 2017 for 246 million euros. In 2016, the number of transfers through Bulgaria was significantly lower - 163 million euros. At the same time, in the report of the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications of Serbia for 2016, it is possible to find such data that armaments (small arms, bombs and missiles) worth 37 million euros were transited through Bulgaria. Some of them went to Saudi Arabia. It is known that Serbia actively supplies Zastava’s automaton machines, which are copies of AK-47, to the Middle East. At the same time, as can be judged from Bulgaria’s reports to the UN Register of Conventional Arms, Bulgaria also performs the role of a hub through which purchases are made. weapons in other Eastern European countries for their subsequent re-export to third countries, including the United States and Saudi Arabia, military expert Yury Lyamin noted EADaily. "Among them comes across and weapons that are made in Bulgaria itself, but, probably, the industrial capacity of the Bulgarian military industrial complex simply can not cope with the volume of orders that flooded them in recent years," said the expert.
Formally, there can be no complaints about Sofia or Belgrade and the capitals of other Eastern European countries, since the arms are bought by government agencies of Saudi Arabia and the US purchasing companies. They are the Pentagon and supply them directly to the militants of Syria. However, in the countries-manufacturers of armaments of the Soviet types they hardly know and do not understand the purpose of procurement, which has been repeatedly revealed in investigative journalism conducted, including EADaily.
This year, only the United States planned to spend $ 500 million on the Syrian part of the training and armament program for the opposition to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (CTEF), next year $ 300 million. The main costs are the purchase of non-standard weapons. Of the ammunition for Syria, they plan to buy, for example, 20 million cartridges and 6 thousand grenades for anti-tank grenade launchers. Rockets "Grad" in the document, for example, are not specified, although, as shown by the supply data, are the main type of ammunition. Of the 23 tons of supplies of Bulgarian ammunition to American purchasers in February, 10 tons were 122-mm rocket projectiles for volley fire systems.Today, they are the most powerful weapon owned by Syrian militant groups. At the same time, Vazovskiy Machine-Building Plant has always been the main supplier of Grad missiles.
The Bulgarian Grads of Ahrar al-Sham militants. Spring 2017.