Rocket launchers made by Grad have been in spotlight during the unrest in Ukraine in recent years. Their ability to fire volleys of un-navigated rockets means they can cause huge casualties across a large area and Human Rights Watch has criticised their use in urban areas.
Eleven of such rocket launchers went from Belarus to Slovakia in 2015. At the same time 14 Grad rocket launchers went from Slovakia to Saudi Arabia in the same year, according to latest report of UN Register of Conventional Arms. Together with rocket launchers, 38,500 assault rifles, approximately 1,000 mortars of various calibres, 483 heavy machine guns and more than 1,600 anti-tank weapons went from Slovakia to Saudi Arabia.
The numbers confirm huge arms deals between Saudi Arabia and eastern-European countries including Slovakia reported in late July by team of journalists from the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
The Saudi Arabian army, however, does not need such weapons as it is one of the best equipped worldwide. Therefore it is very likely that it sells them further, for example to Syria. Moreover, Germany’s secret service - the BND - marks the country as a source of instability in the Middle East.
The Slovak government has been pretending that conflicts in problematic parts of the world are not its business but those huge numbers show that this is not true, according to security analyst and activist Martin Dubéci.
“Considerable amount of military material flows through Slovakia with our stamps and this needs to be discussed,” Dubéci told The Slovak Spectator.
He pointed to Prime Minister Robert Fico speaking in September 2015 about hypocrisy of European politicians who criticise Slovakia for not accepting migrants while supporting civil war in Syria.
“We are all crying because of Syria while we know that many western countries including those from Europe send weapons to rebels in Syria, they train rebels and support civil war. Let’s stop civil war in Syria,” Fico said during an RTVS debate.
Responsibility for conflict
Weapons sent from Slovakia to Syria are obviously not meant for Saudi Arabian army. For example, assault rifles and mortars do not use ammunition compatible with Saudi Arabian army and they are outdated. On the other hand, those weapons have been often used in Syrian civil war, according to security analyst Vladimír Bednár.
“It is practically impossible for intelligence services to not realise it and for Slovak government to don’t know about that,” Bednár told The Slovak Spectator.
31. Aug 2016 at 12:39 | Roman Cuprik