BBC – 2004-03-26 12:54:32
Ukrainian Defence Minister Yevhen Marchuk has said that several hundred of his country’s missiles are unaccounted for. The weapons were supposed to have been decommissioned in the years that followed the break-up of the USSR. But it is now being claimed that there is no record of them being destroyed.
This is being blamed on accounting problems during the period of transition that followed the country’s independence in 1991.
“Unfortunately strange things happen,” Mr Marchuk said in an interview for the Ukrainian newspaper Den. “We are currently looking for several hundred missiles. They were decommissioned, but we can’t find them. Each of the missiles contained gold, silver, platinum. But where are the results of their recycling?” he asked.
The revelations follow a recent audit carried out by the Defense Ministry during which it is claimed officials were unable to discover any evidence that these weapons were destroyed.
Mr. Marchuk believes that accounting problems are to blame because a proper accounting system was not used by his department until summer 2003, around the time that he was appointed.
When Ukraine became independent in the early 1990s it inherited a huge arsenal of weapons which had been kept on its territory by the USSR.
The BBC’s Helen Fawkes in Kiev says Ukraine, like many former Soviet republics, is still having to deal with the legacy of the Cold War.