Ukrainian security forces, in a series of coordinated operations across multiple regions, have dismantled two transnational smuggling networks attempting to export components of military aircraft illegally. 

The Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) has detained several individuals involved in these illicit activities, safeguarding national security and preventing the unlawful transfer of equipment.

In a breakthrough, the SSU Counterintelligence has uncovered and thwarted the unlawful export of MiG-29 fighter aircraft components in an operation spanning Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and Zaporizhzhia. Three dealers, including the mastermind based in Kharkiv, were apprehended for attempting to sell stolen spare parts worth almost Hrv2.5m ($66,000) to Asian customers. 

The traffickers, who had pilfered these components from Motor Sich, planned to smuggle them out of Ukraine, concealing their actions from customs control. A radar unit for a MiG-29 fighter for air defence systems was among the seized items. The SSU caught one suspect red-handed in Odesa oblast as he tried to transport the aircraft products to East Asia via unrecognized Transnistria.

Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of metals and alloys to the aerospace and defence industries, according to GlobalData’s “The Global Military Rotorcraft Market 2023-2033” report. 

Simultaneously, the SSU Counterintelligence exposed another smuggling scheme involving components for multi-purpose Mi-8 helicopters in the Kirovohrad region. A former official of Kropyvnytskyi Detention Center, using online ads to attract potential buyers, attempted to sell auxiliary gas turbine engines and navigation equipment for the Mi-8. 

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The suspect, planning to use international cargo services, falsified information in declarations to conceal the nature of the transported goods. The SSU intervened, serving the individual a notice of suspicion under Article 333.1 of the CCU, thus preventing the illicit export of aircraft components.

Both operations, conducted under the procedural supervision of regional Prosecutor’s Offices, highlight the SSU’s work in combating criminal networks involved in the theft and illegal trade of military equipment. 

The investigation is ongoing to bring all participants in these activities to justice, emphasizing Ukraine’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of its defence industry and safeguarding against threats to national security. The seized equipment, crucial for military aviation, will be handed over to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.