Many European leaders have expressed concern that weapons being poured into Ukraine may ultimately wind up in the hands of European criminals and terrorists.
These fears were expressed during an EU meeting in the Czech capital of Prague this week, in which the Interior ministers of various states discussed the possibility of smuggling in the wake of the Russo-Ukrainian war.
“We know from experience that this often comes after or during a war,” said Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs and Migration, according to Europaportalen.
“We need to be prepared from the outset.”
“WE CAN’T PREVENT IT”
However, an unnamed EU official reportedly said that the EU would not be able to prevent this from happening.
“It is hard to avoid weapons-smuggling,” they said.
“We try to keep track of them, but I would be lying if I said we will succeed. We failed after the war in Yugoslavia, and we can’t prevent it now.”
FEARS BELFAST ANTI-TANK WEAPONS COULD END UP WITH DISSIDENT GROUPS
Back in May, ex-PSNI superintendent Ken Penngington warned that many thousands of “combat-grade” anti-tank weapons sent to Ukraine from Belfast may ultimately end up in the possession of northern Irish Loyalist and Republican paramilitaries.
Pennington, who is now involved in counterterrorism, said that about 17,000 NLAW rocket launchers had been sent to Ukraine but not tracked, and he fears smugglers could sell them to groups like dissident Republicans and the UVF.
JIHAD OFFENCES RISING IN IRELAND
Notably, according to Europol, the number of jihadist arrests in Ireland tripled in 2020 from the year previous, even as terrorism rates dropped across Europe more broadly.
In 2020 and 2021, Ireland saw 22 Jihad terror related arrests, 13 “separtist terrorist” arrests (i.e. Republican dissidents), 1 arrest for rightwing terror, and 2 terror arrests for causes that were unspecified.
In addition, shootings were up significantly last year according to the most recent CSO data.
Rise in rapes, sex offences, child abductions, assaults, shootings, bank robberies, burglaries, kidnappings, extortion, drug importation, and harrassment since last year, says CSO#gripthttps://t.co/tfRQmKmXoz
— gript (@griptmedia) June 29, 2022
BUY THE WEAPONS AND DESTROY THEM
Swedish Integration Minister Anders Ygeman claimed that black market arms was a problem experienced by his country after the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
“There are many weapons from the former Yugoslavia in Sweden that are used by organised crime,” he said.
“We must take steps to control the flow of weapons after the war in Ukraine and also destroy weapons that are no longer needed.”
He added: “The lesson that we’ve learned from other conflicts is that I think you have to pay for those weapons in order to collect and destroy them.”
WEAPONS REPORTEDLY BEING SOLD ON TELEGRAM
According to Italian newspaper Il Giornale, Western military equipment is already being sold out of Ukraine using the encrypted messaging app Telegram.
In addition to Soviet-era AK47s, weapons sold also reportedly include weapons made in NATO countries such as the American M16 and M4, and the Italian ARX 160 A1, likely given to Ukraine to aid the country’s war effort against Russian invasion.