A British couple was fined after they were caught attempting to transport two deactivated rocket launchers into the UK from Ukraine. The couple, who were arrested in May in the French port city of Calais, claimed that the weapons were given to them as a symbol of victory while they were performing humanitarian duties in Ukraine.
During a routine search of the couple’s van before boarding a ship to the United Kingdom, officials discovered the rocket launchers. The couple told customs officials that the weapons were given to them as a keepsake during their visit to Ukraine. They claimed that the rocket launchers, along with other military equipment, were received while they were on a humanitarian mission.
In addition to the rocket launchers, officials also found 14 spent bullet casings and a bulletproof vest with bullet holes in the couple’s vehicle. The rocket launchers were thought to be American-made M141s, which are widely used by Ukrainian troops in the conflict with Moscow.
The discovery of the weapons prompted an emergency declaration at the Calais port and the evacuation of the area. Bomb disposal experts were called in to determine if the rocket launchers posed a threat to the public. After analysis, it was determined that the weapons were inoperable.
The couple appeared in court where one of the defendants stated that the rocket launchers were given to them as symbols of victory. They claimed that the weapons caused them trouble at the border. The other defendant added that they had contacted British authorities to inquire about the legality of transporting decommissioned weapons and were told that it was permitted. However, they found out the hard way that transporting such items is prohibited in France.
As part of a $76.8 billion aid package between January 2022 and the end of May 2023, the United States has supplied Ukraine with numerous M141 rocket launchers. These weapons are commonly used in assaults against bunkers and other fortified positions. However, some Western-supplied weapons have ended up in the hands of criminals, volunteer fighters, and arms traffickers in Ukraine, according to a Department of Defense report.
The report also highlighted challenges in tracking and monitoring the whereabouts of Western military equipment in Ukraine. This incident with the British couple transporting the rocket launchers further emphasizes the need for stricter controls and oversight of the transfer of military equipment.
In conclusion, the British couple’s attempt to transport two deactivated rocket launchers from Ukraine to the UK resulted in a fine. They claimed that the weapons were given to them as a symbol of victory while performing humanitarian duties in Ukraine. The incident sheds light on the challenges of tracking and monitoring Western-supplied weapons in Ukraine, which have ended up in the wrong hands. It serves as a reminder of the importance of strict controls and oversight in the transfer of military equipment.