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"In my home there are few publications that we actually get hard copies of, but [Arms Control Today] is one and it's the only one my husband and I fight over who gets to read it first."

– Suzanne DiMaggio
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
April 15, 2019
U.S., U.K. Leave Ukraine With Few Answers

U.S. and British investigators have been unable to conclude whether Ukraine illegally supplied Iraq with an advanced early-warning system two years ago, according to their report on the alleged sale, which was delivered November 5 to Ukrainian officials. In September, Washington determined that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma had approved the deal, and it is pressing Ukraine to prove that it did not ship the system to Iraq in violation of a 1990 UN arms embargo. (See ACT, October 2002.)

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters November 6 that Ukraine provided “mixed” cooperation with the investigators, who visited Ukraine for eight days in October. Boucher repeated his complaint a week later, stating, “We were disappointed that the team did not receive full cooperation and transparency that was promised by Ukrainian authorities.”

The system in question, known as the Kolchuga, is designed to pick up electronic signals sent out by potential targets. It can reportedly detect aircraft, possibly including stealth fighters and bombers if they are sending out electronic signals, at reported distances of 600-800 kilometers.

Ukraine continues to disavow any wrongdoing and has requested that the United Nations look into the matter, but the United States does not support a separate UN probe. Instead, the United States is urging Ukraine to provide answers to seven follow-up questions that Washington posed about the suspected deal.

Ukraine has not officially responded to the questions, which reportedly ask Kiev to provide information that it contends is secret, proprietary, and not related to Iraq. For instance, one of the questions reportedly asks Ukraine to provide the exact locations of four Kolchuga systems it exported to China. Given the context, the question appears to be aimed at verifying whether all systems reported as delivered to China are actually there and not in Iraq.

The United States, which suspended $54 million in aid to Ukraine two months ago, has hinted that U.S. ties with Ukraine could suffer further if Ukraine is not forthcoming. “We remain broadly committed to a robust relationship with Ukraine and a strong NATO-Ukraine partnership, but obviously these things and the cooperation has to be taken into account,” Boucher said November 13.