PANAGYURISHTE ($1=1.88 Bulgarian Levs) — French and Ukrainian [from Donbas] sources claim that in the hands of the Russian army, and more precisely in the production workshops of the Russian manufacturer Uralvagonzavod, there are two 155mm self-propelled howitzers Caesar, donated by France to Ukraine, as military aid against the Russian invasion on February 24 this year.
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On June 20, French lawyer Régis de Castelnau wrote on his official Twitter account: “Another success of Macron: 2 French Caesar guns were intercepted intact by the Russians. They are currently in the Uralvagonzavod factory in the Urals for study and possible reverse engineering. Thank you Macron, we are paying”.
A few days later, on June 23rd, the Russian company [Uralvagonzavod] responded to the French lawyer, through its official Telegram profile and citing Régis de Castelnau’s tweet, writing: “Hello, Mr. Regis. Please convey our thanks to President Macron for the donation of the self-propelled guns. This material is of course not tip-top… not like our MSTA-S! But nevertheless, it will be useful. Send more – we’ll take them down.”
Ukrainian sources from Donbas claim that they are also aware of this case, but not from the French lawyer or the Russian plant, but from French military sources, emphasizing that the online publication Donbas Insider does not cite who exactly the French military sources are.
France’s General Staff has denied reports of a French Caesar self-propelled howitzer being captured by Russian forces in Ukraine. “This information is false,” said the General Staff of France. “We categorically deny it. We’ve discussed this with our Ukrainian partners.” According to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, no evidence was provided to support the claim.
Sold, not captured
The news of captured weapons would not surprise anyone in wartime. We have witnessed the Ukrainian and Russian military capturing various enemy weapon systems. But the same “unidentified” French sources claim, according to a Donbas Insider, that the two Caesar self-propelled howitzers were sold, through an intermediary, by Ukrainians to Russians. The price, which is being discussed in tight circles, is $120,000 each. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that the unit value of a Caesar self-propelled howitzer varies around the amount of 7 million euros.
A political analyst at BulgarianMilitary.com says that the possibility that the two howitzers were sold to Moscow is evident in the tone and ending of French lawyer and politician Régis de Castelnau’s words. “It is very clear to him [the French lawyer] that during the war, in addition to prisoners of war, the adversaries acquire different foreign equipment. This is war, some die, others abandon their positions out of fear, and others profit from the war. The end of the comment “Thank you Macron, we are paying’ suggests that Régis de Castelnau believes that the two howitzers were not abandoned and therefore captured, but sold. The irony is too strong in this particular case to ignore this fact”, says Dr. Sebastian Levi, correspondent, and analyst of BulgarianMilitary.com for the Middle East region.
Levy also says that he believes the two self-propelled howitzers were resold with the help of an intermediary, a military dealer. Levy, however, has no evidence for his claims but refers to his league reasoning.
However, sales are a fact
The feeling that corrupt Ukrainian servicemen are involved in the illegal arms trade to extract maximum profit is not from now, and it is not only about this case.
On June 2, BulgarianMilitary.com revealed the sale of at least one FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank guided missile system on the dark web for $30,000. The seller is unclear, but according to the information posted on the darknet, the location [where the system will be shipped or picked up from] is Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.
“Ukrops are selling Javelins on the darknet. The command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine resells equipment and weapons supplied by NATO to the Middle East and North Africa. Anyone with a TOR browser can buy this ATGM in the online store,” writes the pro-Russian Telegram channel ABS News.
Interpol knows the illegal sale of arms by Ukrainians to Russians. The German online edition Overton-Magazin writes that concerns can be seen in the statements of Jürgen Stock, Secretary-General of Interpol, “who fears that the weapons will be handed over to criminal organizations. However, this is happening with the complicity of Western governments, which are not willing to put in place safeguards and vetting mechanisms for the use of these weapons. In fact, even the US intelligence services do not know where the weapons delivered to Ukraine are going.”
According to the German publication, a part of the weapons delivered to Ukraine were actually seized, but another part was resold by Ukrainian holdings, which are in the hands of Russian businessmen. Overton-Magazin even points to a specific case that should be investigated for illegal trade, and that is the downed Ukrainian helicopters that tried to evacuate Ukrainian soldiers from Mariupol. The investigation so far indicates that the helicopters were shot down by American Stinger anti-aircraft missiles donated by the Americans.
Here’s what the German publication Overton-Magazin wrote: “The Western narrative of the prophesied defeat of Russia and the victorious resistance of Ukraine is the main argument for promoting the deployment of weapons. It gives the impression that all that is needed is the ‘last little push’, to achieve victory. The reality, however, is not so romantic.”
The Russians will dismantle the Caesar SPHs
The sold two self-propelled 155mm French Caesar howitzers will benefit the Russians. The fact that they are located at the Uralvagonzavod plant tells us only that their disassembly and detailed study of their technology is ahead.
The Caesar self-propelled gun’s guidance and fire coordination system are of real interest to Russian military engineers. They are to be studied in detail, analyzed, and most likely copied. When this process is over [it is not short] and if the war is still going on, the fact that the Russian armed forces will use the two Caesar SPHs against the Ukrainian forces exists.
Whether this will happen – time will tell. But the sale of the two self-propelled howitzers is a shameful act by the the Ukrainians involved in this case for two reasons: first, a French artillery battalion was stripped of its weapons to be sent to Ukraine, and Morocco will have to wait longer to receive its Caesar SPHs, as the order was withdrawn by the French government precisely because of the start of the war in Ukraine.
The greed of a certain group of Ukrainians can lead to human losses in Africa, due to the lack of purchased weapons, which were brazenly resold on the black market. Currently, only Ukrainians who defend their land and use the weapons donated by the partner countries can understand the meaning and importance of what has been said so far.
And finally, let’s mention the most important fact that is known, but no one dares to talk about it: in order for such a sale to be carried out, the presence of strong corruption is necessary, especially among the military command and the lower officer ranks of the Ukrainian army.
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