Belgium Probes NATO Arms Misuse By ‘Russian Paramilitaries’

Belgium has launched an investigation into allegations of NATO-allocated weaponry being exploited by forces deemed “Russian paramilitaries.” The alleged operation involves the Ukrainian-aided troops initiating aggressive stances within Russian borders, potentially stirring geopolitical tensions further.

These reports have surfaced primarily from the Washington Post, identifying anti-Putin combatants within Russia’s Belgorod region wielding SCAR assault rifles, Belgian-made weapons and other arms from the Czech Republic. It raises pertinent questions concerning the transparent and accountable use of NATO military assistance.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo emphasized the country’s unwavering stand on NATO’s assistance to Ukraine, stating, “Our weapons that are provided to Ukraine are naturally intended for defensive purposes of the Ukrainian territory.” The unambiguous directive against the offensive usage of such armaments underlines Belgium’s commitment to regional stability.

Belgium, home to the European Union’s de facto capital, Brussels, authorized a substantial military aid package of €90 million to Ukraine earlier this year. This package contained the aforementioned SCAR rifles, allegedly found with anti-Putin Russian forces within the Belgorod area.

Moreover, paramilitary forces involved in the regional conflict reportedly used tactical vehicles, initially intended for Ukraine, dispatched by the United States and Poland. This revelation could jeopardize the stance of the United States and its Western NATO allies, who, despite contributing significant financial aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia, have consistently maintained these weapons are for defensive use exclusively, strictly within Ukraine’s sovereign territory.

A representative from the U.S. State Department reiterated the U.S. position on the matter: “The United States does not encourage or enable attacks inside of Russia. We have been clear about how we don’t support the use of U.S.-made equipment for attacks inside Russia, including with the Ukrainians over the past week.”

Furthermore, paramilitary forces allegedly comprising ethnic Russians, including Russian citizens, initiated the fighting in Belgorod. These groups, known as the Legion of Free Russia and the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK), purportedly harbor extremist ideologies with the ultimate aim of dethroning Putin. This viewpoint is met with skepticism and dismissed by the Kremlin, simultaneously suggesting a likely diversionary tactic by the Zelensky government.

Moscow shared photos of destroyed NATO-supplied hardware on Russian territory, igniting a flurry of concerns. Among the equipment featured were M1151A1 Humvee armored cars and M1224 MaxxPro armored vehicles.

According to Mark Cancian, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the accountability for the misuse of NATO supplies lies with Kyiv. This investigation has placed Ukraine and its Western supporters under increased scrutiny, prompting calls for greater control over weapon distribution and a comprehensive reassessment of assistance protocols.

As Belgium initiates its probe, it also calls for transparency and accountability from Ukraine. It reflects a growing concern among NATO members about ensuring that assistance serves its defensive purpose and does not stoke the flames of an already precarious situation.