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As Arms Trade Treaty Opposed by Zim and USA, Ukraine Denies Shipping Tanks to S. Sudan

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, October 31 -- As a resolution "toward an arms trade treaty" passed at the UN with only the U.S. and Zimbabwe voting against it, the planned destination of the tanks hijacked in their Ukrainian ship off the coast of Somalia became more clear. Two African Ambassador to the UN tell Inner City Press that the tanks were meant for South Sudan, that not Kibaki but Odinga is aware of and even involved in this stealth weapons flow. Meanwhile, Inner City Press on October 30 asked Ukraine's Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev about his country's shipment of the tanks, and of other weapons to Georgia. Video here, from Minute 27:30.

  Ambassador Sergeyev, after insisting that the tanks were meant for Kenya because Kenya so declared, upon pressing acknowledged that "this is the responsibility of the destination" country. Thus, he appeared to argue that under current law, Ukraine bears no independent due diligence responsibility to ascertain where its weapons actually end up, and for what purpose.

   An arms trade treaty is needed, but what passed Friday essentially sets up a series of meetings. Even so, the U.S. and Zimbabwe opposed it. Belarus, notably, abstained on all votes except voting "yes" to retain Operative Paragraph 4, setting up a February 27, 2009 meeting in New York. Does the Belarusian representative simply want to travel to New York on that day, or was this extraneous vote cast by mistake?

Arms surrended in Nepal, where Ban is, ATT & Ukraine tank shipment not shown

  Ukraine's Ambassador Sergeyev used Inner City Press' question about its arms sales to Georgia as an opportunity to blame August's conflict on Russian "interference." The main purpose of Ambassador Sergeyev's press conference on October 30 was to distribute his country's "non-paper" resolution about the 1932 famine or Holodomor.

 The UN's General Committee has twice failed to vote on including the issue in its agenda. The first time, since President d'Escoto Brockmann had called for a vote, U.S. Deputy -- and soon reportedly to be Acting -- Permanent Representative Alejandro Wolff insisted that no more speaking be allowed. This infuriated Kazakhstan's Ambassador, leading to a stand-off which Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin likened to Wolff knocking down a person getting off a bus.

  The second blocking of vote was by Wolff, as it turns out. In further inquiry into Ambassador Churkin's charge that the U.S. blocked d'Escoto from calling a vote on the issue on October 23, Inner City Press has learned that, having no other way to block a vote, Wolff filibustered d'Escoto in his office throughout the time of the meeting, asking questions about the painting's on the office wall, Martin Luther King, etcetera. This infuriated Ambassador Churkin, leading to his October 28 45-minute press conference on nothing but the famine question.

  It appears unlikely that Ukraine's resolution will pass; even its supporters belittle the resolution off the record. It was 75 years ago, they say. But some like to poke the Russian bear with a stick, any stick. Russia, for the record, abstained from the Arms Trade Treaty resolution, as did China. While the UK voted for it, and rushed to the Security Council stakeout to brag about their vote, to come full circle to Kenya, it is reported that its tanks are of British origin.

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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