The pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine are outfitted with military hardware that has almost certainly been provided by Russia, Sam Jones reports for the Financial Times.
Some amount of weaponry that the rebels use was looted from Ukrainian military installations in the east of the country. However, Russia is thought to have provided the majority of the weapons that are currently in rebel hands (in addition to training rebels in Russia).
NATO intelligence services have recorded convoys of Russian military hardware being sent into Ukraine.
One of the first points of delivery within Ukraine is the town of Snizhne, where the Buk missile system that shot down flight MH17 is believed to have been located.
“The overall strategy — that has been missed by many in the west — has been to create a proper army,” Jonathan Eyal, the international director of the military think-tank the Royal United Services Institute, told FT. “It is not to create a guerrilla organisation. It is not a resistance movement. Russia is trying to create a proper military force.”
Aside from providing small arms, semi-automatic weapons, mines, and troop carriers, U.S. intelligence officials believe that Russia has also given Ukrainian separatists heavy equipment which we have highlighted below.
T-64 Battle Tanks
T-64 battle tanks once featured prominently in the Russian military. Since Russia started military reforms within the past decade, it has had a number of these extra tanks lying around waiting to be decommissioned.
Grad Rocket Launchers
Grad rockets are a multiple rocket launch system. The system was developed in the Soviet Union and can fire up to 20 kilometers.
2S9 Nona Self-Propelled Guns
The 2S9 Nona originated in the Soviet Union. The weapon is a self-propelled mortar weapon system. It can also double as an amphibious vehicle.
BMP-2 Infantry Combat Vehicles
The BMP-2 is an amphibious fighting system. Its main armaments is an automatic canon, and it has a secondary machine gun.
Buk Surface-To-Air Missile System
Buk missile systems are self-propelled surface-to-air missile systems. The weapon system is radar-guided, and it is believed to have been the weapon that was used to shoot down flight MH17.
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