Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Monday that his government is asking Ukraine if Belgian rifles were used by pro-Kyiv fighters in a recent attack on Russia’s Belgorod region.
De Croo’s comments came after US officials told The Washington Post that groups of Russian volunteers fighting for Ukraine were armed with US-made armored vehicles and rifles that were made in Belgium and the Czech Republic during a raid on Belgorod.
“Our defense ministry and its intelligence agencies have started an investigation and are asking for information to determine what has happened exactly,” De Croo said, according to Al Jazeera.
“European weapons are delivered to Ukraine under the condition that they are used on Ukrainian territory with the purpose of defending that territory. And we have strict controls in place to see that this is the case,” he added.
The two groups who took credit for the Belgorod attack — the Freedom of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps — have admitted to using NATO weapons.
“The basic military equipment like the rifles and machineguns, they obviously are part of the regular fighters in Ukraine because both of those groups are part of the international legion, which is a part of the Ukrainian armed forces,” Ilya Ponomarev, a political representative for the Freedom of Russia Legion, told Al Jazeera last month.
Denis Nikitin, the leader of the Russian Volunteer Corps, a group of open neo-Nazis, told Financial Times that his fighters were armed with American armored vehicles, including MRAPs and Humvees, in the cross-border raid that was launched on May 22. The Russian volunteer groups have claimed several more attacks in Belgorod since May 22 and said Sunday that they captured Russian soldiers.