Fears of possible armed assaults and provocation in Ukraine and neighboring countries are on the rise after yet another report that rocket grenade launchers, firearms and munitions have been stolen from a military warehouse in western Ukraine.
A source in the Ukrainian Interior Ministry told RIA Novosti that the coup appointed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has recently been notified that a large cache of guns and ammunition was missing from one of the military warehouses.
“Reports to Avakov indicate that over 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 2,741 Makarov handguns, 123 light machineguns and 12 Shmel rocket launchers were stolen from the Interior Troops’ depots in the Lvov Region in late February,” the source said.
“The investigation has also established that 1,500 F-1 hand grenades and a large number of munitions are missing,” it added.
Earlier it was reported that at the end of February 2014 during the assaults on a number Ukrainian military units in the Western Lvov Region, radicals stole some 1,200 firearms, including around 1,000 Makarov handguns, over 170 Kalashnikov rifles as well as machineguns and sniper rifles.
The authorities in Ukraine have so far failed to track down these weapons igniting speculation that these weapons could be used to provoke more unrest in Ukraine which could eventually spill outside the country.
“Given that the northern and eastern borders of Ukraine are heavily guarded, there is a high probability that a significant portion of these weapons will be illegally smuggled through the western regions to the neighboring countries - Romania, Albania, in Transnistria, the Balkans. Of course, later part of the weapons may end up in other EU countries,” says Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Russian Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST).
Some military experts believe that the weapons will soon surface in the hands of the Right Sector or other nationalistic movements, which were the violent driving force of the coup that ousted Victor Yanukovich.
For inciting terrorism and participation in hostilities against Russian soldiers in Chechnya, Russia’s Investigative Committee has placed Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh on an international wanted list.
The head of the Right Sector previously announced the creation of Revolutionary National Guard, a formation that plans to unite all the ultra-nationalists groups to serve as police and secret services. Last week Yarosh also demanded the self-imposed government in Kiev to arm Right Sector members.
The nationalist movement wants weapons and military hardware in addition to army training centers to be under the control of the Right Sector to provide “quality training for Right Sector fighters” in order to “protect the territorial integrity” of Ukraine, Itar-Tass reported, quoting a source in the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
The creation of a National Guard on the basis of Ukrainian troops to protect Ukrainians against “external and internal aggression” was announced on Friday.
“The Right Sector carries weapons, and will possess them as long as there is a threat to our state and our people. When the threat is over, we will lay down weapons,” the notorious member of the Sector, Aleksandr Muzychko – or Sashko Bilyi as he was known during his war against Russian soldiers in Chechnya – announced last February.
The question remains, whether Kiev considers Sunday’s referendum in Crimea as such a threat that it should be prevented by any means necessary. Crimean leader certainly thinks so.
On Wednesday the Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksenov announced he had information that the Right Sector might be planning an attack on one of the Ukrainian army units in the peninsula under the guise of Russian servicemen as a provocation to disrupt the referendum. Some 10,000 members of the Crimean military, recently formed from self-defense squads, and over 5,000 police officers will ensure that the referendum goes smoothly, Aksenov said.