Weapons sent to Ukraine after Russia’s invasion in February will end up in the global hidden economy and in the hands of criminals, the head of Interpol has said.
Jürgen Stock says once the conflict ends, a wave of guns and heavy arms will flood the international market and he urged Interpol’s member states, especially those supplying weapons, to cooperate on arms tracing.
“Once the guns fall silent [in Ukraine], the illegal weapons will come. We know this from many other theatres of conflict. The criminals are even now, as we speak, focusing on them,” Stock said.
“Criminal groups try to exploit these chaotic situations and the availability of weapons, even those used by the military and including heavy weapons. These will be available on the criminal market and will create a challenge. No country or region can deal with it in isolation because these groups operate at a global level.”
He added: “We can expect an influx of weapons in Europe and beyond. We should be alarmed and we have to expect these weapons to be trafficked not only to neighbouring countries but to other continents
Stock, the secretary general of the international policing organisation who was speaking to the Anglo-American Press Association in Paris, said the conflict in Ukraine had also led to a rise in large-scale fertiliser theft and an increase in counterfeit agrochemicals. There was also a huge rise in fuel theft. “These products have become more valuable,” he said.
Asked about alleged sanctions-busting and money laundering by Russian oligarchs faced with international restrictions, he said Interpol was investigating neither these nor alleged war crimes as Interpol’s constitution forbade the organisation to get involved in political activity and had to remain neutral.
However, he added the organisation had received a request from Ukraine to help with the identification of those killed in the conflict. “We are not in Ukraine but we could help with this. It is classical identification work,” said Stock.
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