: Reuters: Ukraine, after war, becomes a trove for black market arms trade

10:38 Jul. 28, 2016

Reuters: Ukraine, after war, becomes a trove for black market arms trade

A pro-Russia rebel patrols a residential area close to the central railway station on July 21, 2014 in Donetsk, Ukraine. (Getty Images)

So far, there is little evidence of where the weapons smuggled out of the Ukraine conflict zone end up

On Feb. 12 last year, the same day that a ceasefire ended the worst of the fighting in eastern Ukraine between rebels and government forces, a former rebel fighter seized a chance to turn his inside knowledge of the conflict into hard cash.

He traveled to a spot on the Russian-Ukrainian border where he retrieved a cache of weapons hidden there earlier by his comrades in the pro-Russian rebel movement.

Four days later, shortly before 6:00 p.m., he and a friend showed up in a taxi at a fuel station in western Russia where they had arranged to meet a contact ready to buy the arms, according to Russian court documents.

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He and the friend opened the trunk of the taxi, and began transferring the cargo into the buyer's vehicle. Concealed in a sports bag and a rucksack were three automatic weapons, 1,258 bullets, 20 grenades, and 20 detonators for the grenades.

The buyer was an undercover police officer and the former rebel, identified in the court documents as Y.V. Mikhailov, was sentenced this year to two and a half years in jail.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine between the Moscow-backed separatists and Ukraine's pro-Western government killed hundreds of people, displaced thousands of residents and created a Cold War-style stand off between Moscow in the West.

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