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Kiev Says Seized Ukrainian Arms Shipment is ‘Normal Cargo’

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Markiyan Lubkivskyy told journalists on 3 June that an arms shipment halted earlier this week by Turkish authorities in the Bosphorus Strait was "normal cargo," dpa reported.

Lubkivskyy said the ship, sailing under a Maltese flag with six Ukrainian crew, was carrying a consignment of small arms and other weaponry from Ukraine to Egypt.

The Turkish detention of the vessel earlier this week resulted from "improper seals on some of the shipped containers," rather than from indications that the shipment was in any way illegitimate, Lubkivskyy added.

He declined to provide details of the arms deal or comment on the statement of Ukrspetseksport, Ukraine's principal arms exporter, that it has no connection to the shipment.

Some Turkish media have speculated that the seized shipment -- which reportedly included grenade launchers, antitank rockets, artillery shells, automatic rifles, and other ammunition -- was intended for use in a possible terrorist attack against participants in a NATO summit scheduled in Istanbul for 28-29 June.

(RFE/RL 04.vi.04)

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