Ukraine has become a hub for arms trafficking through criminal networks

The Ukrainian war is fueling the black market in weapons of war. Interpol has warned international authorities. With the U.S. decision to massively ship war weapons along with other Western countries to Kiev, Ukraine has become a hub for arms trafficking through criminal networks. These weapons of war are already feeding various criminal organizations in Europe and around the world.

Some of these weapons end up in the hands of other armies and militias that the United States had no intention of arming, not to mention gangs in European Union countries.

Weapons of war destined for Ukraine are supplied to European countries. Interpol is concerned about this fact and about the fact that weapons sent to Ukraine to prolong the war end up in the hands of criminals. “The widespread availability of weapons during the current conflict will lead to the proliferation of illicit weapons in the post-conflict phase,” Jürgen Stock, Interpol’s secretary general, told the Anglo-American Press Association, adding, “Criminals are already targeting this as we speak.”

The European Union is “a likely destination for these weapons, because the black market prices for these firearms are much higher in Europe, especially in Scandinavian countries.” “Even weapons that are used by the military, heavy weapons, will be available on the criminal market”, “the criminals I am talking about operate globally, so these weapons will be traded across continents”, warned Jürgen Stock.

Interpol chief Catherine De Bolle went even further a few days earlier, warning that European countries risk “levels of violence on European streets that we have never seen before.” In an interview with Die Welt, De Bolle said she wanted to prevent weapons from Ukraine being distributed throughout Europe by criminal gangs after the war [in Ukraine] because for a long time the authorities underestimated the power of organized crime.”

Interpol has intercepted communications in France, for example: “The investigation started in France and the Netherlands. We helped to gain access to communications. This has given us a whole new insight into how organized crime jeopardizes security in Europe, the rule of law and democracy.”

Stock stressed the need to create databases that track the destination of every weapon or missile sent to Ukraine. The current situation will strengthen the position of increasingly internationalized organized crime groups. De Bolle said, “One day the war will end and we want to avoid the situation that occurred 30 years ago during the Balkan war.” According to her, “weapons from that war are still being used by criminals.”

CNN reported in April that the U.S. does not really know what happens to the weapons sent to Ukraine. U.S. media claimed that “it is a conscious risk that the Biden administration is willing to take.” A senior Pentagon official said it was “certainly the largest recent supply from a partner country in a conflict,” but “the risk, according to current U.S. officials and defense analysts, is that in the long run some of these weapons will end up in the hands of other armies and militias that the United States did not intend to arm.”

With the war in Afghanistan, “inevitably, some weapons found their way onto the black market, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, the very type the U.S. is currently supplying to Ukraine.” The U.S. rushed to recover the Stingers after the Soviet war in Afghanistan, but could not find them all. When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, some officials feared the Taliban would use them against the United States.

The problem is not unique to Afghanistan. Weapons sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have found their way into the hands of Al Qaeda-linked fighters. The risk of a similar scenario in Ukraine also exists, the defense official acknowledged. “As early as 2020, the U.S. Defense Department’s inspector general issued a report raising concerns about oversight of the end use of weapons shipped to Ukraine,” CNN quoted him as saying. But given the Ukrainian military’s almost insatiable short-term need for more weapons and ammunition, the long-term risk of weapons ending up on the black market or in the wrong hands was deemed acceptable, the official added.

These weapons could be used, for example, by those preparing for civil war. Following the events at the Stade de France, at the Champions Leage final held in France recently, Henri Guaino, a former advisor to President Sarkozy, has warned that “we are heading for war like sleepwalkers.” “Civil war can happen to us,” he says.

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