Russia seizes 20 tons of missile parts from smugglers
Smugglers tried to export to parts to Ukraine
Russian officials arrested more than 10 people for trying to smuggle 20 tons of missile parts, including classified components for the S-300 air-defense system, the Federal Customs Service said, Bloomberg reported.
The smuggling ring, comprising former and active Russian servicemen, was attempting to export the parts to countries including Bulgaria, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, the service said on its Web site today.
The unidentified smugglers operated under the cover of top officers at the Sixth Air Force and Air Defense Army, according to the statement. Their detention is the latest in a series of similar cases uncovered by North-Western customs and involving weapons components bound for Latvia and an unspecified Asian country.
Russian law enforcers are beefing up the fight against corruption, which President Dmitry Medvedev has called a threat to national security. The head of the Federal Customs Service, Andrei Belyaninov, is former chief executive officer of Rosoboronexport, the state-owned arms selling agency.
The long-range S-300s are among the biggest-selling Russian missile complexes that have been delivered to China, Vietnam and Greece and contracted by Algeria, said Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy head of the Center for the Analysis of Strategies & Technologies, a Moscow-based research company. A number of Middle East countries, including Iran, are also interested in the system.
The seized parts included components for the S-75, S-125 and S-200 surface-to-air missile systems, the customs service said. In early 2007, officials seized 200 kilograms of parts including components for Sukhoi Su-27 fighter planes and KA-27 helicopters, in an attempt to smuggle them through Russia’s border with Latvia. The same year, customs officials detained 864 wheels for Su-27 fighters bound for an Asian country.