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Ukraine says arms smuggling claims are Russian propaganda

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Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of spreading propaganda about the proliferation of illegal arms smuggling resulting from Moscow’s invasion and said it was closely monitoring the delivery of Western-supplied weapons to front lines.

“All the weapons received by Ukraine, including long-range ones, are carefully accounted (for) and sent to the frontline,” said Ukraine presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak.

His comments come after the EU announced this week it would create a hub in Moldova to battle organized crime, particularly arms smuggling from its war-roiled neighboring Ukraine.

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Podolyak described the supply of weapons by Washington and European allies as “a matter of survival” for Ukraine and said that oversight of those deliveries was “a priority” for his government.

“All the other ‘rumors’ are banal propagandistic throwaways aiming to disrupt supplies,” he added in a comment on Twitter.

EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson announced the EU Support Hub for Internal Security and Border Management at a Monday meeting of EU interior ministers, which was expanded to include counterparts from non-EU countries Ukraine and Moldova.

The meeting in Prague focused on the threat of weapons - many of them supplied by the West - being smuggled out of Ukraine to equip crime gangs in Europe.

Small arms have been increasingly available in Ukraine since 2014 when Moscow-backed rebels broke away from Kyiv in two eastern statelets, spurring an armed conflict with Ukraine’s army.

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