Bosnians split over sale of weapons to Ukraine

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SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — A Bosnian arms exporter has threatened to sue government officials who are blocking a 5 million-euro deal his company has with Ukraine because of objections from Russia.

The manager of the UNIS-Group, Suvad Osmanagic, said Thursday the deal is legal and that he is still negotiating with the authorities in hopes of clearing the export.

Bosnia's government is made up of officials from all three main groups living in the country — the Bosniaks, the Croats and the Serbs. Pro-Russian Serbs in the government object to weapon exports to Ukraine.

The minister of trade, a Bosnian Serb, resigned last week over the issue, saying he refused to clear a deal that would jeopardize relations with Moscow.

His non-Serb successor has said she needs time to study the case and will decide whether to issue the clearance by the end of the week. Ermina Salkicevic-Dizdarevic said in a statement she only took over the post of minister on Monday, and is not familiar with the case, from which previous minister Boris Tucic had "completely excluded" her although she was his deputy.

Tucic's decision to resign in order not to give the clearance was supported by the government of the Bosnian Serb region.

"We object to any distribution of weapons from Bosnia to areas where wars are being fought," said the president of the region, Milorad Dodik.

Russia on Thursday called on Bosnia not to supply Ukraine with weapons, arguing that they would be used by the Ukrainian armed forces "to continue firing on populated areas and murdering civilians."

But Osmanagic warned new minister Salkicevic-Dizdarevic UNIS Group will sue her too if she does not issue the clearance. He emphasized Ukraine was not on any international list of countries to which arms export is banned and all other Bosnian institutions required to clear the deal have done so.

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