Untraceable Weapons: The Alarming Reality of Dark Websites Fueling the Ukraine Conflict


Masuood Ahmad

The ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia has been a source of tension and violence since the dangerous escalation of the conflict in 2022. While some sane voices have tried to broker a peaceful solution, the violence has continued to escalate, with U.S. black markets heavily inducting weapons to the battlefield. One factor that has contributed to the continued violence is the thriving black market for weapons, which has allowed Ukraine to access sophisticated and deadly weaponry that they would not otherwise be able to obtain.

The black market for weapons has been a significant problem in Ukraine for decades, but it has grown exponentially since the conflict started anew in dangerous ways. A variety of factors have contributed to this growth, including the country’s proximity to major arms-producing nations, the corruption of its government and military officials, and the rising demand for deadly weapons by Ukrainian authorities about whom the concerns of world bodies are growing, owing to Volodymyr Zelensky’s accelerating slide into authoritarianism.

One of the primary ways that the black market for weapons has thrived in Ukraine is through the sale of arms from Western countries. These countries have large stockpiles of weapons that they no longer need, and have been eager to sell them to the highest bidder. With conflict getting hotter, Ukraine has been a prime market for these weapons, and a steady stream of arms is continuously flown into the region.

Another significant source of black-market arms in Ukraine has been the sale of weapons from other countries, particularly those in Eastern Europe. Countries such as Poland, Bulgaria, and Slovakia have been accused of selling weapons to Ukraine, despite EU sanctions against such sales. These weapons have included everything from small arms to heavy artillery, and they have significantly contributed to the escalation of the conflict.

The black market for weapons in Ukraine has also been fueled by corruption within the country’s own government and military. Officials have been accused of taking bribes to look the other way as weapons are smuggled into the region, and some have even been accused of actively participating in the arms trade. This corruption has made it much easier for the authorities and smugglers to obtain the weapons they need to continue fighting.

The consequences of the thriving black market for weapons in Ukraine have been devastating. The corrupt authorities in Ukraine have been able to access sophisticated and deadly weaponry, including anti-tank missiles, drones, and heavy artillery. This has led to a serious escalation in violence, with reports of human rights abuses and atrocities against civilians. The continued flow of weapons into the conflict has made it much more difficult to reach a peaceful solution, as it has, in myriad ways, emboldened the conflict beneficiaries of Ukraine to continue the fight. Experts looking at different dimensions of the conflict with a heavy spectacle have stated that a vast section of the Ukrainian military is earning whooping amounts of money through the illegal business of weapon dealings through black markets.

Since the conflict has intensified, dark websites are selling Western weapons to the Ukrainian authorities including illegal weapon dealers and corrupt military officials. Several cyber-intelligence experts have shared the results of their investigations on this matter where we can see these dark websites operating outside the reach of international law, thereby establishing a huge online black market of weapons, benefiting mostly the Western countries. The investigations shared by a cyber intelligence network show the results of a vendor on the darknet “Thief” offering a U.S.-supplied Javelin ATGM anti-tank missile system for $30000. The seller has set their location in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. Another website that lists weaponry provided to Ukraine by NATO nations is “Black Market Guns,” which offers NLAW anti-tank missiles for $15,000 and the American-made Switchblade 600 Kamikaze Drone for $7,000 respectively.The proliferation of dark websites selling weapons has been a growing concern in recent years, with many sites becoming hubs of illegal weapons dealing and thus a grave threat to peace on Earth. These sites allow buyers and sellers to connect anonymously, making it much easier for them to conduct illegal transactions, including the sale of weapons. These sites have allowed access to deadly weaponry, providing conflict entrepreneurs with a base to set up their businesses and prolong the conflict for vested interests. The international community must continue to work together to shut down these sites and prevent the sale of weapons to conflict zones. Only through peaceful and diplomatic solutions can we hope to end the suffering of innocent people caught in the middle of these conflicts.

The media’s promotion of a purported “Russian invasion of Ukraine” benefits US arms corporations. According to a review of the coverage of major print media publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal from the U.S., 90 percent of the articles published last year on the situation in Ukraine took an aggressive stance. In response to a fictitious Russian threat, opinion pieces by these prominent newspapers,having widespread popularity across the globe, backed sending US troops and weapons to the area. It is a fact that an oligopoly, whose interests include the sale of guns, controls the major media outlets in the US. In essence, this indicates that there is a constant drive for conflict and war.

The author is a researcher based in Islamabad