Published On: Sat, Apr 23rd, 2022

France and Germany armed Russia with £230 million military gear before Ukraine invasion | World | News

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Moscow received €273 million (£230 million) of military hardware including bombs, rockets, missiles and guns despite a weapons embargo introduced by Brussels following the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, an EU analysis shared with the Telegraph has revealed. Earlier this month, the European Commission was forced to close a loophole in its blockade after it was revealed that at least 10 member states exported €350 million (£294 million) to Russia.

It was unveiled that 78 percent of the companies involved in selling weapons to Russia were French and German.

It is highly likely that some of the weapons they sold are being used by Russian troops in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

German firms alone had sold €121 million (£107 million) of “dual-use” equipment, including rifles and special protection vehicles to Moscow.

Berlin defended its actions with reference to an ambiguity within the EU’s 2014 arms blockade.

It insisted that the goods were sold only after the Kremlin guaranteed they were for civilian rather than military use.

A spokesman for the country’s economy ministry explained: “If there were indications of any kind of military use, the export licences were not granted.”

France was found to have sent shipments worth €152 million (£128 million) to Russia, as part of 76 export licences.

Paris allowed exporters to complete contracts agreed before 2014, using a technicality in the EU embargo, the report revealed. 

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Along with bombs, rockets and torpedoes, French firms sent thermal imaging cameras for more than 1,000 Russian tanks as well as navigation systems for fighter jets and attack helicopters.

Following the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, the EU has introduced further restrictions on the export of dual-use items to Russia, closing the loophole.

However, it wasn’t until the fifth round of sanctions, described as the “most draconian ever”, that the exemption on previously agreed arms sales to Russia was scrapped.

The loophole, which eventually closed on April 8, was only shut after mounting protests from Baltic and eastern European EU member states. 

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Envoys from Poland and Lithuania ensured the text of the original 2014 arms embargo was amended when it was revealed that weapons were still arriving into Russia.

The French government did not comment on its use of the exemption, but has previously defended the use of the “grandfather” clause.

According to European Commission data, EU countries last year sold Russia weapons and ammunition worth €39 million (£33 million) as Russia prepared for its invasion of Ukraine.

Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Commons defence committee, told the Telegraph that all NATO member states should be forced to declare they are not sending arms to Russia at the Madrid summit in June.

He said: “If we agree Russia now presents an existential threat to European security, then there is no excuse for any European country to continue supplying Russia arms.”

Admiral Lord West of Spithead, a former First Sea Lord told the Telegraph the actions of EU states selling arms to Russia through loopholes were “stupid”.

He said: “Using loopholes to avoid the EU arms embargo of Russia post the Crimean invasion is effectively a crime and breathtakingly stupid.”

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