Putin claims Western weapons for Ukraine have been sold to Taliban

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday claimed without evidence that some Western weapons intended for Ukraine have been sold to the Taliban on the illegal arms market.

Putin made the accusation during a meeting with members of the Russian Civic Chamber while discussing what he characterized as a high level of corruption in the Ukrainian government.

According to Reuters, Jürgen Stock, the head of Interpol, warned last year that a portion of the steady stream of guns and heavy arms being provided to Ukraine for its defenses against Putin’s invading forces could end up being purchased by organized crime groups on the international arms market. However, Ukrainian officials have maintained they keep a close watch on weapons sent from Western allies.

But Putin said some weapons sent to Kyiv’s military have already been sold because, according to him, “everything is for sale” in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday is shown during a meeting with the Russian Civic Chamber in Moscow. During the meeting, Putin claimed without proof that Western weapons sent to Ukraine have been sold to the Taliban.
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“Now they say: Weapons are getting into the Middle East from Ukraine. Well, of course they are, because they are being sold,” Putin said, according to a Reuters translation of his comments. “And they are being sold to the Taliban, and from there, they go onto wherever.”

Newsweek reached out to the Russian and Ukrainian ministries of foreign affairs via email for comment Friday night.

TASS, a Russian state-controlled media outlet, also reported on Putin’s claim about Western weapons being bought by the Taliban. Putin reportedly went on at length about Ukraine and his accusations of corruption there.

“In Russia, we have plenty of problems. We, in Russia, and in the entire world are fighting corruption, but corruption in Ukraine has taken on a life of its own—there is nothing like it in the world, you can take it from me,” he said, according to TASS.

The Russian president—who has been accused of rigging national elections and keeping tight control over what is reported by his country’s media—then claimed former Ukrainian leaders used to quote prices to him for the cost of getting things done.

“Believe me, I had close contacts with [Ukraine’s] former leaders—they buy everything: The vote in the Supreme Court, the vote in the Constitutional Court. Buy!” he said, per TASS.

Putin reportedly added: “This coming from the highest officials! I was taken aback! I said: ‘This is how you do things here?’ [And the answer was]: ‘Well, yes, this is the way it is here.'”

While admitting that there is a level of corruption in Russia, Putin described the situation as worse in Ukraine.

“The scope is different: There [in Ukraine], corruption is actually legal,” he said.