Police fear Western arms shipments to Ukraine may backfire — Analysis
Swedish law enforcement suggests that some of the weapons supplied to Kiev could end up in gangs’ arsenals
Swedish police have voiced concerns that weapons delivered to Ukraine by its Western allies could make their way to the Scandinavian country, ending up in criminal gangs’ arsenals once the conflict is over.
Speaking to Swedish Radio on Monday, Crime Commissioner Gunnar Appelgren warned: “It is possible that illegal weapons flows could enter Sweden.” when peace is restored in Ukraine.
The official explained that while weapons may now be in high demand in the country’s conflict zones, when hostilities are over, Ukrainians will find themselves with a surplus of arms. According to Appelgren, criminal groups might try to monetize this situation.
Police commissioner said that the majority of weapons being used in Sweden today are all derived from Balkan wars. “Many automatic weapons, including AK47s, were imported.” Appelgren said, adding that hand grenades also made their way to Sweden a couple of years ago.
Sweden, among other European nations as well as the US, the UK and Australia, have been supplying armaments and ammunition to Ukraine to help it repel Russia’s military offensive which President Vladimir Putin launched in late February.
In recent years, the Scandinavian nation has seen a surge in violent crime, with street gangs settling scores with the help of firearms – something Appelgren appeared to reference, saying: “There are conflicts in Sweden”
Ylva Johansson, a Swedish politician serving as the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, echoed the police commissioner’s concerns in late May. Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper quoted her as saying: “with Putin’s war in Ukraine, we see a very high risk of increased criminal arms trafficking.”
During her visit to the Moldovan-Romanian border, Johansson, too, noted that “Even though the conflict in Yugoslavia ended, the aftermath of that conflict is still evident in Sweden. There, weapons left over from wartime are used to commit crimes.”
An EU official stated that the European Commission would submit a proposal by summer to prevent, detect, and investigate illegal firearms trading.
Experts cited in Dagens Nyheter’s article along with Johansson warned that criminals in Sweden could potentially even get hold of armor-piercing bullets smuggled from Ukraine.
In late May, Europol chief Catherine De Bolle told the German media that one of her organization’s major concerns was the “The location of current weapons being delivered to Ukraine.” She, too, compared the current situation to “This was 30 years ago during the Balkan War.”
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