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Friday, November 18, 2016

Lost Boys, Girl Soldiers: Forgotten Casualties of War

Much has been written on the use of child soldiers by the self declared “Islamic State”. With the offensive against Mosul beginning in earnest, eyes again are on the group and its use of children on the battlefield. 
With focus here perspective is often lost on the fact that other groups such as the Syrian Arab Army, YPG and a myriad of Jihadist factions have been spotted, using children and adolescents on the battlefield. As communities feel existential threats and the number of fighting age males dwindles, the definition of what constitutes a ‘fighting age male’ continues to drop.

This has numerous negative effects for the young men involved. The continuous, unpredictable danger and severe stress associated with the mere fact of living in a warzone can lead individuals to developing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other health issues. Maladaptive coping mechanisms, acute stress responses, hyper-vigilance, insomnia, concentration difficulties and memory problems are all possible outcomes of exposure to repeated traumatic events. Research from Northern Uganda shows prevalence rates of symptoms of PTSD are more prevalent in young teenagers who were pressed into service or abducted, than those who chose willingly to enter service.
Traits and symptoms of PTSD are likewise more prevalent when children and adolescents, do not have adequate familial or  social support. as found in cases of Cambodian children, and amongst Israeli communities. Exposure to repeated traumas in the form of terrorist attacks, barrel bombs, random artillery barrages all threaten core safety and security schemas about the world. Internal and external coping mechanisms are mobilized to deal with this, with diminishing returns as communities are emotionally taxed and unable to fully care for their loved ones trauma as well as their own.
When discussing the Syrian conflict it is vital to separate the use of children in propaganda material and actual military training of future child soldiers. As seen with the Islamic State group, organizations, can run ideological indoctrination programs, and deploy underage fighters to the battlefield as simultaneous but separate programs. The line where para-military activities as indoctrination begins and para-military activities designed as actual battlefield preparation begins is a murky one. Following in the framework of the self declared Islamic State, some groups may train children for years before ever deploying them to the battlefield.

Amongst the non-IS jihadist factions, one group that has been very open about the use of children in combat is Katibat Imam Bukhari. Katibat Imam Bukhari is a group of primarily Uzbek fighters loyal to the Taliban, with a small Chechen component. The group operates, or at least did operate training camps in the Aleppo region. These camps feature components on urban warfare and the group has acted as a powerful opposition faction in North and Western Aleppo at different times.
Sometimes, as in the photo below, children of fighters are brought along to mill about the training camps. With the jamaat being one of the only reliable social institutions for foreign fighters, the inclusion of children at training camps is not seen as too out of place. Many times children are staged in videos a fundraising prop. This communicates to their opponents (and to a lesser extent foreign Gulf backers) that the jihadis are steadfast in their convictions and in the fight for the long haul. The only group willing to show children at the age of ten or younger killing is the self declared Islamic State group.

In a 2015 video release the group documented the death of a commander’s 14 year old son in the North Aleppo countryside. Despite this personal loss, the group continued using children in battle.  Flanked by other young fighters, Imam Bukhari commanders vow to fight on. In another video from this year, a commander in the group is seen inspecting teenagers operating a hell cannon in Aleppo. The commander is extremely proud of the boys for joining at such a young age. No norms are being broken in his eyes. To quote one militant in the group: “We have 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 -year-old mujahedin with guns in their hands… you can go to wage jihad at any age”. While there is indoctrination into group ideology, there does not to be forced conscription in the majority of Syrian cases. The features of child combatants in the Levant differs from what we have found on the African continent.

Disturbing ISIS video shows children wielding guns and shooting

In comparison to African conflicts, the presence of child abduction is less a factor in determining whether a child or adolescent will become a child soldier. Much research has been done on the use of child soldiers in places such as Uganda or Mozambique. Here the patterns of recruitment often revolved around raiding. Boys were abducted from their village or homestead and drafted into service. Currently that phenomena seems less prevalent in Syria. That may change with more time and field research, but outside of the self declared Islamic State forced conscription seems to play only a small role. Instead, the phenomena of foreign fighters bringing their families wit them on jihad seems to play a larger role. Below we see an example of this in the Uyghur Turkestan Islamic Party.

The Turkestan Islamic Party is an outlier among the jihadi groups operating in Syria. Part Uyghur nationalist, TIP is an avowed enemy of the People’s Republic of China. In private conversations, TIP has been described as a “third way” group akin to Jund al-Aqsa. Operating under the same al-Qaeda umbrella as Imam Bukhari, Tawheed wal-Jihad and Imrat Kavkaz, TIP puts an onus on the “far enemy” in a way other foreign fighter groups in Syria do not. TIP propaganda shows us images of entire families armed with weapons. While the propaganda is meant to intimidate Chinese officials and show resolve to supporters back home, it also gives us insight into the subcultures of violence that form among jihadist circles in Syria. Without civic engagement, without access to resources and education beyond the military and religious variety, children are likely to fall into the same trap their parents did.
Open source methods alone do not allow for a comprehensive understanding of how different groups in Syria utilize children in different roles. Often younger children are used as spotters or scouts. They serve an auxiliary role rather than that of a frontline fighter, no self respecting jihadi is going to employ ten year olds as front line shock troops. It is more likely that adolescents will be deployed to the front lines. From the perspective of an unscrupulous commander, adolescents provide the impressionability of children, but their physical development makes them more useful as traditional fighters on the battlefield.
When adolescents are deployed on the frontlines by jihadist factions, one way to tell is by the distinctive lack of a beard such as in these propaganda releases by another Uzbek group operating in Syria, Katibat Tawheed Wal Jihad. Even with blurred faces and balaclavas, it is clear the individuals in the picture do not have the fully developed facial and physical features. A group like Katibat al-Taweed wal Jihad has never showed off very young fighters, but quite blatantly uses adolescents.

When discussing adolescents it is important to keep in mind that adolescents have a greater level of autonomy and agency than young children. An adolescent may choose (under duress, false promises, or misguided idealism) to join an armed faction. The use of adolescent fighters has been documented in factions of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo and Chechen Jihadist groups such as the now defunct Jaish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar. Due to the constantly changing dynamics of the Syrian opposition it is not outside of the question that local Syrian boys may join a nominally foreign faction if it can provide them with food, security, and a level of control of their damaged lives. Besides the honor and glory that comes with being a resistance fighter, joining a faction and defending their community serves as a way for young adolescent men to claim their forming identity.

This “giving back control” is a narrative oftentimes used to justify the arming and military training of children in Syria. The arming of children is not seen as an offensive and amoral tactic of war, but as a means to defend the community. Be that community Sunni Arab, or otherwise. The nebulously defined People’s Protection Units which sprung across Northern Syria in response to the then titled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has on numerous occasions given weapons and uniforms to children and adolescents. In the Kurdish context, the presence of young girls being armed and given uniforms, is one manifestation of this process.
The People’s Protection Units have been criticized by independent NGOs for the continued use of child soldiers in their ranks. Despite attempts to crack down on the practice, it continues. The breakdown in command and control between local and regional commanders is one possible explanation for this. The lack of any centralized command has dogged the both the opposition and Syrian state since the conflict began in 2011. Diplomatic initiates from a number of regional backers has failed to truly unite and standardize a set of norms for the myriad of different groups and militias. Without this, any new guidelines aimed at removing children and adolescents from the frontlines is functionally impossible to enforce across the board.
This constraints are not unique to the YPG. On the side of the regime you see all number of smuggling gangs, foreign paramilitaries and local militias, each with their own set of behaviors and norms. One of the most prominent offenders on the pro-regime side are the IRGC organized Liwa Fatemiyoun. Liwa Fatemiyoun a militia nominally sent to Syria to defend a holy Shia shrine. Functionally the group has acted as auxiliaries for the Syrian Arab Army. Pro Iranian blogs have kept track of those who died in Syria. One blog post commemorating “The smallest defender” features a boy no more than 15 or 16. Other memorials for dead fighters released to the media feature adolescent fighters. As a project of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard it is very difficult for Westerners to gain insight into how Fatemiyoun fighters are vetted. If the accusations of drafting drug addicts and poor Afghan refugees prove correct, the answer to that question could easily be “not at all”. The prospect of hundreds of dollars in income a month to support their family is simply too good to turn down for some boys.
In addition to the foreign militias fighting for the regime, regime forces themselves have deployed underage troops to the battlefield. As documented in both Russian and Western accounts, the Syrian armed forces nominally one unit in the popular discourse, are in actuality an uneven patchwork of local militias, warlords, and smugglers. Corrupted by patronage networks, defections and inefficiency the Syrian army has been an institution on it’s last legs since the onset of the conflict beginning in 2011. One symptom of this is the regularly must outsource fighting to, independent actors.

Part-warlord, part-viceroy and part-mafia don, Mohammed Jaber serves as Assad’s man in the Northwestern province of Latakia. Noted for his involvement in money laundering, and smuggling oil Mr. Jaber runs one of the most well organized and funded pro-regime militias in Syria. As Much like the opposition groups it fights, Suqur al-Sahra runs it’s own training camps and has a logistical capacity exceeding that of other pro-regime militias. Suqur al-Sahra forces are thought to work with Russian advisors in the conflict. Despite this, the organization still seems to accept adolescent fighters into its ranks. Two boys were featured as martyrs in February. The fighting took place at Khanasir south of Aleppo.
Suqur al-Sham is not the only regime loyalist faction to use adolescent combatants. Combatants as young as fourteen have been sighted on the Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, and Latakia fronts. A regime supported militia in Latakia seen using young combatants is Quwat dir al-Amn Askeri. A project of the Military Intelligence Branch, these adolescents were seen fighting in Aleppo two weeks before the publication of this article. In addition to flaunting norms against the use of chemical weapons and targeting of civilians, the Syrian state continues to deploy combatants of dubious age to the frontlines. Article 77(2) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva conventions (a protocol recognized by the Syrian Arab Republic) say that conflicting parties must “take all feasible measures in order that children who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities”. This is openly flaunted by state backed groups such as the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party, and Palestinian militias deploy combatants at fourteen years of age.
Child combatants have been used on all fronts in the Syrian Civil War. It is imperative that all sides, despite the logistical and organizational hurdles uproot the use of child soldiers from their ranks. Civil wars are local endeavors, and in the fragmentary and kaleidoscopic nature of both government and opposition forces it is often difficult to exert control on proxy and auxiliary forces. It is up to the actors on the ground to and their foreign backers to investigate all possible instances of children being used as soldiers. Children at this stage of development are very impressionable. Every action, every trauma, can scar and hobble their physical and mental development. We must make sure the mass uprooting and exploitation of Syria’s children does not lead to a lost generation.
Due to the nature of the project not all factions could be included in the essay portion. The following is a non-exhaustive, non-comprehensive list of factions in the Syrian Civil War that have employed child combatants. YPG and FSA groups were more savvy about not shining a public light on younger combatants and did not allow for the identification of particular units and formations in which violations occured. It is meant to be a useful tool for researchers and human rights investigators. Links are provided where possible. In multiple instances, video evidence was deleted from video sharing sites as Youtube for Terms of Service Violations before they could be adequately investigated and archived.
Regime factions who have trained or used child combatants:
al-Qaeda linked factions who have trained or used child combatants:

Lost Boys – Child Combatants of the Syrian Civil War November 16, 2016 Mr. Woods

Lost childhood in the «Caliphate» 20.05.2016

Islamic State jihadists holed up in Mosul had brainwashed over 400,000 children to fight and die for their cause, the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Isis syllabuses taught children how to make explosive belts, take female hostages and prepare booby-traps," Commission’s media director Jawad al-Shamri is quoted as saying.
The battle to retake the city, the jihadists' last major bastion in Iraq, is now in its fourth week, and while troops have pushed into the built-up area, there are weeks, if not months, of fighting still to go.
Children have been previously seen in Islamic State videos carrying out executions of prisoners.
Cataloguing the jihadist group's human rights abuses in the report, the commission's chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein cites “Heartbreaking images of children being forced to carry out executions […] The forced displacement of tens of thousands of civilians and their exploitation as human shields, and then the risk of reprisals against these long-suffering women, men and children for their perceived support of ISIL – the extent of civilian suffering in Mosul and other ISIL-occupied areas in Iraq is numbing and intolerable.”

Since the jihadist group overran large swaths of Iraq and Syria in the summer of 2014, sleek videos published by IS-affiliated accounts have been showing boys -- some appearing to be as young as eight years old -- loading and firing guns and crawling through sandy brush as part of military training.
The phenomenon was dubbed "Cubs of the Caliphate."
Earlier this year a US counter-terrorism expert told BBC that "In other conflicts, the use of child soldiers may represent a strategy of last resort, as a way to replace battlefield losses, or in specialized operations for which adults may be less effective."
"However, in the context of IS, children are used in much the same ways as their elders," Charlie Winter said. "As the military pressure against IS increases, I would expect that there would be an acceleration of the amount it is using children."

400,000 kids in Mosul reportedly 'brainwashed' by Islamic State to fight, die 11/16/2016

It was during an ordinary game of soccer when Michel Chikwanine was abducted at age 5 by rebel soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and recruited into the army.
Herded onto a truck with his friend Kevin, Chikwanine was blindfolded, handed an AK-47 gun so heavy he could barely lift it and ordered to shoot.
"So I pulled the trigger," Chikwanine told a conference on conflict and migration issues on Tuesday, where activists, advocates and others met to discuss such issues as the estimated 250,000 child soldiers in the world today.
"I took off the blindfold," Chikwanine, now 28, said. "There was blood on my hands. There was blood on my shirt, and in front of me was my best friend Kevin.
"I was 5 years old, and I was forced to kill my best friend as way of being initiated," he said.
The eastern region of Chikwanine's homeland has been plagued by dozens of armed groups that prey on locals and exploit mineral reserves. Millions of people died between 1996 and 2003 as conflict caused hunger and disease.
Chikwanine escaped and at age 11 made his way to Canada, where he lives and studies. He urged the international community to do more to stop the use of child soldiers.
"We talk about children's rights and we give them lip service, but we're not really fulfilling these goals," he said at the RISING Global Peace Forum conference.
Of the world's 250,000 child soldiers, about 40 percent of recruits are girls, said British charity War Child.
Many girls in the eastern Congo join militia groups for food and money, for protection against violence or because their families cannot afford to pay school fees, according to the Britain-based Child Soldiers International.
They are often married off to militants and vulnerable to abuse and rape, activists said.
The use of children in war has been increasing, especially in jihadist groups such as Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and Boko Haram in Nigeria, said Romeo Dallaire, founder of the Canada-based Child Soldiers Initiative.
"In the past, certainly children have been used, but as a peripheral instrument or as a last resort," Dallaire told the conference.
"We're actually moving into an era where the preferred instrument of conflict ... is using children to do the conflict," he said.
Dallaire, who worked for the United Nations during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, said the recruitment of children is a strong indication of other horrors being committed as well.
"If you're ready to recruit children to do your fighting, there is no limit to what you can make them do, and there's no limit to where you are prepared to go in regards to abusing human rights," he said.
"If you see significant recruitment of child soldiers in a conflict zone, ... it can rapidly degenerate into mass atrocities or genocide," he said."
THE HAGUE - Children don't start wars, and yet millions around the world are caught up in conflicts -- conscripted into militias, turned into sex slaves, felled by deadly bombing raids, robbed of their homes and families.
Now the International Criminal Court has pledged to place a special focus on prosecuting crimes against children, unveiling a new policy on Wednesday. 
The aim is "to more robustly address the scourge of crimes against children," said ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
Her office also wants to "put the spotlight firmly on the 230 million children around the world today who suffer or are subjected to the crimes of war and conflict". 
"It is unforgivable that children are assaulted, violated and murdered and yet our conscience is not revolted," Bensouda said.
At a gala event in The Hague to unveil the policy, Bensouda recalled the first case prosecuted by the tribunal after it opened in 2002 in The Hague.
Former Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga was found guilty of press-ganging child soldiers -- all under the age of 15 -- into his militia. He was jailed for 14 years.
The policy has taken two years to draw up and involved consulting many child victims of war and conflict from around the world.
"Children are rarely given visibility or voice in matters that affect their wellbeing," said Romeo Dallaire, founder of the Child Soldiers Initiative, welcoming the initiative.
Special attention will now be paid to how children are questioned in the courtroom to "prevent harassment or intimidation".
Prosecutors will "adopt a child-sensitive approach in all aspects of its work involving children" and court workers will be trained in how to handle child witnesses.
The former Dutch ombudsman for children, Marc Dullaert, revealed that "every five minutes, a child is killed by violence".
"Children are among the principal victims of war. We are failing to take care of them," Dullaert told the special event held on the sidelines of the annual assembly of ICC member nations.
He also urged the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the tribunal "without further delays".
"Immediate prosecution of war crimes against children in Syria is necessary. Children's lives and futures are at stake," he warned.

I was forced to kill my best friend, former DRC child soldier says Nov. 16, 2016 THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION

ICC vows new focus on crimes against children Agence France-Presse Nov 17 2016

Girl Soldiers: Forgotten Casualties of War Pat Hynes, October 29, 2016

The haunted life of Myanmar’s child soldiers 
  • AFP, Yangon
  • Nov 18, 2016

    Nigeria: Officials sexually abused women displaced by Boko Haram OCTOBER 31, 2016

    War Profiteers
    Young boys, children soldiers sit on February 10, 2015 with their rifles at a ceremony of the child soldiers disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration in Pibor oversawn by UNICEF and partners Photo by AFP

    Lieutenant General Nikolai Ryabets never thought of himself as a businessman. His world has always been missiles and anti-aircraft systems. What he knew well was how to operate, maintain, and modernize them. During the Soviet war in Afghanistan the general provided missile defenses for Kabul and Kandahar for three years. On his return to Ukraine, still part of the Soviet Union in those days, he served in all echelons of the air defense forces in Lviv and in Kyiv, slowly moving all the way up to the position of deputy commander.
    Now retired from active duty, the general works in a sleek office in a freshly refurbished two-floor building in Kyiv as chairman of the state-funded company Nebo Ukrainy, or The Sky of Ukraine. His job is to sell old Soviet air defense systems, “good enough for the third world countries.” He has not had much luck.
    It’s a pretty cynical business, and probably Ryabets should not have been surprised when Hollywood star George Clooney and human rights activist John Prendergast of the Enough Project named Riyabets and the company he heads in a damning document they presented in September about corruption and civil war in the benighted new nation of South Sudan.
    Some unscrupulous profiteers proactively look for ways to profit from instability and continued violence—either through the sale of weapons or by penning deals with armed groups that aspire to take power by force,” reads the report titled “War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay” under the heading, “War Profiteers.”
    The document then goes on to detail the activities in South Sudan of one Mark Goldmann, acting as an agent for Nebo Ukrainy with a letter signed by Ryabets.
    As the aging general tells the story, the day he first heard of Goldmann is a day he hates to remember.
    Ryabets says that about four years ago a neighbor of his named Sayid, a refugee from Chechnya’s first war with Russia, came up with a business idea. “Sayid said his brother Magomed lived in Geneva and had very good connections all over the world, and that he might help us find a reliable buyer in Africa or in China,” Ryabets told The Daily Beast.
    Lt. Gen. Ryabets described the role of the Chechen partner as go-between connecting the Nebo Ukrainy corporation founded and owned by the state and whoever wants to buy Ukraine’s rusting rocket systems, some of them more than 30 years old.
    “Back in 2013, Russian citizen Magomed Erzanukaev, who also goes by the name Mark Goldmann, visited our company,” said Ryabets. “He did not look like any rich businessman, rather like an immature loser, but we still issued him a document authorizing him to be the official representative of our corporation, Nebo Ukrainy, until August last year.”
    Looking back, Ryabets says he regrets the day he ever let Erzanukaev-Goldmann walk into his office, as in fact, instead of helping to find a good business deal for Nebo Ukrainy and make money, the Chechen brother of his neighbor caused both Ryabets and his corporation a huge headache.
    The report released by Sentry, one of the groups sponsored by Clooney and Prendergast, says that in 2014, in the middle of Ukraine’s war with pro-Russian rebels in the Donbas region, Mark Goldmann acted as a broker between South Sudan’s vice president at the time, Riek Machar, and the defense firm Nebo Ukrainy. The documents obtained by Sentry indicated that Goldmann was “importing military equipment for the improvement of its military defense… in return for crude oil” from South Sudan.
    “This Russian broker identified himself as ‘Mark Goldmann’ and claimed to head a company called MGA Capital, offering to negotiate the sale of military equipment in return for the country’s most lucrative asset: oil,” the report said.
    Ryabets confirmed in our interview that together with the official letter authorizing Goldmann to be Nebo Ukrainy’s broker, he also equipped Erzanukaev-Goldmann with a catalogue of potential goods that included multiple air defense systems, including the vaunted S-300 and the BUK, the rocket launcher tragically famous for bringing down Malaysian flight MH-17 in July, 2014, over eastern Ukraine.
    The catalogue also offered the self-propelled “Shilka,” the portable air defense complex Igla and several other expensive items of military equipment.
    But according to Ryabets, Goldmann never actually sealed any deals. “There were miles to go between the day Magomed or Mark was to find us a reliable buyer and the day of actual delivery, since we sell everything through a state agency, UkrSpecExport,” Ryabets told The Daily Beast. Goldmann declined to comment on the case.

    Did Ryabets have bad feelings about looking for business deals in long-suffering, violence-plagued African countries?
    The export of weapons is just business for the senior officer.
    “Look, we have to sell the old defense systems, otherwise all our BUKs and other air defense systems will just rot in storage,” said Ryabets. “When the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, warehouses at our military bases were full of weapons. Ukraine shoveled tons of them to Africa, packed those countries with all sorts of tanks, artillery, and air defense systems made in USSR.”
    All this was big business. In 2012, for instance, Ukraine shipped major conventional arms worth $1.344 billion, becoming the fourth largest arms exporter in the world after United States, Russia, and China, according to the data published by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
    And the rot of corruption is not limited to South Sudan or Africa.
    In the three years since Ukraine’s Maidan uprising and the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine has become a bazaar of both legal and illegal weapons with numerous high profile corruption cases.
    In fact, Ukrainian prosecutors are currently calling in senior defense ministry officers for questioning. The press service for Ukraine’s prosecutor general has published info-graphics of all weapons illegally exported by corrupt military commanders in the period from 2005 to 2014, worth a total of two billion Ukrainian hryvnia or $77 million dollars.
    A big chunk of money from these sales goes into the pockets of the same [ex] Soviet generals who commanded our forces before the Maidan revolution,” says Yuriy Kolesnikov, leader of a volunteer group providing aid for battalions fighting in Donbas. “They continue to fill up their pockets with corrupt dollars, instead of supporting the forces on the front lines.”
    The situation in the eastern regions of Ukraine meanwhile continues to be shaky. On Thursday morning the press service of the Anti-Terrorist (ATO) Headquarters reported 37 attacks on Ukrainian army positions by pro-Russian rebel forces in one single day.
    Shortly before the third anniversary of the Revolution of Dignity, the country’s capital of Kiev was once again shaken by anti-government street protests as both civilians and military personnel called for a change of power. On Nov. 14, hundreds of Ukrainians came out to protest against increasing prices. Many said they had lost their deposits at Ukrainian banks. About 300 people blocked the street in front of the National Bank of Ukraine.
    The new generation of political elites pushed for reforms and anti-corruption measures in the defense ministry and law enforcement agencies, but to little avail. ”Corruption is once again everywhere you look, in the government, in the defense ministry, in the bank system,” Kolesnikov told The Daily Beast.
    His volunteer group put together their own technology, a drone that is capable of transporting up to 50 kilos of cargo. The drone could apparently also fire and liquidate enemy targets, Kolesnikov said with pride.
    Last month the Committee on Preventing and Combating Corruption looked into 68 cases of violations committed last year and 116 appeals to law enforcement agencies identified during internal checks in 2016.
    Ukroboronprom officials admitted that the war in Donbas did not stop corruption within state agencies.

    Our army commanders and Ukroboronprom, the group responsible for import and export of weapons, is a total disgrace even as our soldiers are righting an artillery war in Donbas,” says Kolesnikov. “This year alone, Ukraine has exported 12 units of the weapon most demanded on the front, the 122-mm howitzer D-30, as well as Mi-24 and Mi-29 helicopters; and then Ukraine was begging for newer weapons from the West.”
    Back in his office, Lt. Gen. Ryabets was angry as he discussed the ingnominy of his ordeal in South Sudan.
    “That Magomed did not do anything good for our country, did not help us sell a single piece of scrap,” the officer said with frustration and then stared at The Daily Beast reporter with a light of hope in his eyes: “Maybe you could help us sell our goods?” Ryabets asked. “Please publish the highlights of our catalogue, maybe there is somebody on the West who would be interested in purchasing our newer, modernized air defense systems.”
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