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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 11, December 1996

Allegations of Ukraine-Libya missile deal

On 9 and 10 December, reports in the Washington Times alleged that Ukraine had entered into an agreement to sell ballistic missiles to Libya. The report, which spoke of a $510 million deal to sell short-range Scud-B missiles - quoted CIA and Clinton Administration officials as expressing concern.

On 9 December, the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington issued the following statement:

"Ukraine does not have any agreements on military-technical cooperation with Libya. In the middle of September 1996, the Cabinet ministers of Ukraine strongly ordered once again that all government agencies had to adhere to UN sanctions against Libya."

On 10 December, Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister, Konstantin Grischenko, called a press conference and forcefully called upon the United States to distance itself from the allegation. Grischenko, who the previous day had called the reports "sheer madness," argued:

"They [the US] should state clearly that Ukraine is in no way guilty of such accusations. If there are some problems or questions, we should like to receive them officially..."

On 9 December, White House spokesperson Mike McCurry had observed only: "We have very real concerns about the non-proliferation obligations that have been expressed by the government of Ukraine - indeed any country - and very real concerns about the actions of the government of Libya. You can imagine we would raise those concerns very directly." More reassuringly for Kiev, State Department spokesperson Glyn Davies stated (9 December):

"We have discussed with Ukraine our concern about cooperation with rogue States such as Libya. And we believe Ukraine is committed not to permit such madness..."

Ukraine's consternation at the reports was also voiced by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yuri Sergeyev (10 December): "The aim [of the reports] is to create tension in Ukrainian-American relations or even destroy the Ukraine-US strategic partnership... No such agreements were planned or have been planned." Sergeyev added, referring to concern expressed in Moscow:

"It is very strange that such accusations have been picked up so quickly by Moscow... We have a very reliable and serious system of export controls... Everything is well checked and there is no way arms, military equipment or dual-purpose goods could get through, wherever they are headed..."

Editor's note: According to the Spanish El Mundo newspaper on 25 November, a recent confidential NATO report warns that Libya may acquire medium-range missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction by 2006, or before.

Reports: Libya - Medium-range missile capability by 2006, APS Diplomat, 25 November; Ukraine to sell missiles to Libya, AP Datastream Washington News Wire, 9 December; Ukraine to sell ballistic missiles to Libya, Agence France-Presse International News, 9 December; US concerned about Libyan bid to get weapons from Ukraine, Agence France-Presse International News, 9 December; Ukraine denies selling arms to Libya, OMRI Daily Digest, No. 227 Part II, 10 December; Ukraine denies US report it sold missiles to Libya, Reuter News Reports, 10 December; Ukraine 'concerned' over reports of arms deal with Libya, Agence France-Presse International News, 11 December.

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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