Friday, October 03, 2008

Somalia: Ukraine drawing up plans for hostage release scenarios?

"Ukraine will never negotiate with pirates, terrorists, other criminals." says the First Vice Premier. He then goes on to discuss the negotiations between the ship owners with mediators. Oh, and those tanks belong to Kenya. Honest Injun.

"The Cabinet of Ministers ordered a number of agencies, including the military intelligence, SBU, to elaborate scenarios of hostage release in case of force majeure conditions, including with the help of third countries. Such negotiations are being held now," he said.

According to Oleksandr Turchynov, a key requirement of the Ukrainian side is safety during a hostage release operation. Speaking about a situation with the Faina vessel, the official stressed that tanks onboard the ship were purchased under the contract with Kenya. "This means that the ship cargo fully belongs to the Kenyan Defense Ministry," he emphasized. The Faina ship owner is the Panamanian AG water company, while the company's manager is registered in Switzerland.

"Ukraine will never negotiate with pirates, terrorists, other criminals. Anyway, terror and hostage taking will be one of the most spread activities in the world," the First Vice Premier said.

At the same time, Mr Turchynov noted that according to the international practice, the talks about a crew release and ship's further fate shall be held by the ship-owners with mediators. "The talks are being held through mediators, so there is no clear position fixed yet. The requirements are approximately within USD 20 million. But the negotiations have started in deed," the Ukrainian First Vice Prime Minister underscored.

Between accusations of providing arms to Georgia during their dustup with Russia and now, the questionable ownership of tanks and weapons seized on the MV Faina, the whole subject of Ukraine's illegal arms dealing is starting to heat up within the Ukrainian government.

Details of arms deals -- and who is responsible for authorising them -- have become part of increasingly fierce accusations being traded between President Viktor Yushchenko and his prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko this week said authorisation of transactions was "under the direct control of the president and the National Security Council". She demanded an investigation of illegal arms trade "which, unfortunately, is occurring today in Ukraine". Her allies have called for control to be transferred to the government.

Bondarchuk, however, said the government had sufficient control over the arms trade to prevent illegal transactions. "Holding talks, signature of contracts and shipment of weaons is conducted strictly on the basis of authorisation of the Export Control Service. This body is part of the government," he said.