By: john faerseth
October 18 2023
IMAGO/APAimages via Reuters Connect
A video shared on X on October 8 shows an assortment of weapons, with an Arabic voice stating: “We thank the Ukrainian authorities for selling us these weapons.” A caption beneath says, "A Defense Department inspector general report obtained by CNN - showed Criminals, volunteer fighters and arms traffickers in Ukraine stole Western-provided weapons – selling them on the black market to terrorists and paramilitaries in other conflict zones.”
Following Hamas’ attack on Israel, several claims online have stated that Hamas used weapons donated to Ukraine by Western allies and later sold on the black market.
Another video was shared on X October 10 and said to be made by BBC. The clip purported to quote the investigative website Bellingcat and alleged that the majority of weapons used by Hamas were supplied by Ukraine and sold through a corruption scheme involving officials in the Ukrainian defense department.
Furthermore, former president and current deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev wrote on X on October 9: “Well, NATO buddies, you've really got it, haven't you? The weapons handed to the nazi regime in Ukraine are now being actively used against Israel. And it's only going to get worse. Do expect missiles, tanks, and, quite soon, planes fresh from Kiev in the black market.”
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev accusing Ukraine of selling donated arms on the black market. Source: X (Screenshot by Logically Facts)
Similar claims about the illegal transfer of weapons have been made by U.S. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and YouTuber Clayton Morris. Both are known to have repeated Russian propaganda narratives in the past.
On the same day the second video was posted, Bellingcat wrote on X, “We've reached no such conclusions or made any such claims. We'd like to stress that this is a fabrication and should be treated accordingly.”
Neither the BBC nor Bellingcat has reported evidence supporting the claim that Ukraine has transferred arms to Hamas. BBC Verify journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh confirmed on his personal X account that the video was fake and the claim is untrue.
Screenshot of Shayan Sardarizadeh’s post saying the video is fake. (Source: X)
When Medvedev posted his tweet, Ukrainian military intelligence (HUR) had already written on Telegram that Moscow was planning to falsely accuse the Ukrainian army of selling Western weapons to terrorists on a regular basis. This was posted at 11:34 a.m., more than two hours before Medvedev’s tweet.
Hans Petter Midttun, former Norwegian military attache to Ukraine who writes updates on the war for the English language Ukrainian news website Euromaidan Press, told Logically Facts that while the weapons shown in the video may come from Ukrainian territory, they do not come from Ukraine, adding: “As we work with facts, I can’t prove that they do not come from Ukraine. But I want to emphasize that it is unlikely since this will only harm and not benefit Ukraine.”
The caption in the video is taken from a CNN story from July 2023. It quotes a report that Western weapons and equipment intended for Ukrainian troops had been stolen by arms traffickers and criminals, including a Russian official who joined a Ukrainian voluntary unit with forged documents. Ukraine’s intelligence services disrupted the plots, and the weapons were ultimately recovered. The report dealt with the period from February to September 2022 when the U.S. Department of Defense was unable to visit areas where equipment was stored and used before on-site inspections resumed in late October. Since then, the DoD has also provided the Ukrainians with tracking systems.
Mark Galeotti, a specialist on Russian politics and security affairs, told Logically Facts that it is by no means impossible that some weapons sent to Ukraine could have ended up in Gaza since “wherever there are weapons, there is an illegal market, and it is known that individual weapons, especially small arms, have ended up on international illegal markets.”
Galeotti adds, "The key thing is to keep this in perspective: they are likely to be few, and the kind of small arms which are already proliferating in illegal markets have nothing to do with Ukraine.”
On October 9, Ukrainian military intelligence told the newspaper Ukrainska Pravda that Russian occupiers had provided Hamas militants with U.S.- and EU-manufactured trophy weapons captured during the hostilities in Ukraine. While other sources have not confirmed this, CNN reported in March 2023 several instances where Russia had captured Western weapons and equipment left on the battlefield by Ukrainian forces and sent them to Iran to be reverse-engineered to make their own versions.
The practice was not believed to be widespread but was said to constitute a potential threat to Israeli forces as a reverse-engineered Javelin could be used by Hamas or Hezbollah against Israeli tanks. In July, a high-ranking Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commander also expressed concern over the risks of Western weapons sent to Ukraine ending up in the hands of Israel's foes in the Middle East, including Iran. Military cooperation between Iran and Russia has deepened since the start of the full-scale invasion.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has spoken out in support of Israel, and many Ukrainians see Israel as a nation that thrives despite a decades-long conflict, with advanced weaponry and intelligence services that minimize risks for civilians.
While it cannot be disproved that a small number of weapons sent to Ukraine have made their way to Gaza, there is no evidence of Ukraine selling weapons to other conflict zones.