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Europol Warns of Weapons Influx from Ukraine; Anticipates Unprecedented Street Violence by Robert Semonsen

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Europol Warns of Weapons Influx from Ukraine; Anticipates Unprecedented Street Violence

The head of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, better known as Europol, has said that the massive quantity of weapons supplied to Ukraine by EU countries could end up flowing back into the bloc, warning that such a scenario could precipitate a level of street violence previously only seen in Latin America.

Days ago, while speaking with the German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag, Executive Director of Europol Catherine De Bolle expressed deep concern that—similar to what occurred decades ago following the conclusion of the Yugoslav wars—arms deliveries from the EU to Ukraine could easily fall into the hands of criminal elements and create a volatile situation that would imperil the EU’s internal security landscape. 

She noted that the “weapons from [the Yugoslav war] are still being used by criminal groups today.”

In the event that the European Union does face a flood of weapons flowing in from Ukraine, De Bolle warned of a “level of violence on European streets that we have never seen before. Until now, we only knew this from Latin America.” De Bolle also announced that—to get in front of this potentially calamitous situation—Europol had initiated the creation of a special international unit to guard against the proliferation of weapons of war. 

Europol must quickly develop a strategy against this because “someday the war will be over,” she stressed.

De Bolle also mentioned that covert “entry and exit of known terrorists and violent extremists” from the war zone in Ukraine continues to be among Europol’s primary concerns, adding that the agency’s counter-terrorism center is monitoring the “highly dynamic and fragmented” situation as closely as possible. Thus far, however, the law enforcement agency has not been able to determine just how numerous entries and exits of this kind are, she said.

Additionally, De Bolle mentioned that Europol’s assessment of the situation on the ground indicates that those traveling to Ukraine to fight are not from a single “homogenous group,” but come from disparate ideological backgrounds. She also noted that many of the fighters are returning to their home countries “disillusioned” after witnessing the “brutality of the war” firsthand.

Europol’s warning is the second of its kind this month. Weeks ago, during a regional conference titled “Police Chiefs Combating Organized Crime: Challenges and Support” held in North Macedonia’s capital Skopje, De Bolle cautioned that the war in Ukraine could cause an uptick in terrorist activity in the EU.

“Foreign fighters are already going to the war zone. Some of them may eventually become radicalized and return to the EU, posing a public safety threat. The SIS (Schengen Information System) and our databases confirm the travel of both jihadists and right-wing terrorists (to Ukraine),” she warned.

De Bolle also noted that Ukrainian refugees, 90% of whom are women and children, continue to be vulnerable to exploitation by human traffickers, and emphasized that gun runners arms looking to sell arms in the European market would likely seek to capitalize on the accumulation of weapons in Ukraine. Despite these repeated warnings, the collective West continues to spend billions of euros on weapons deliveries into Ukraine.

Robert Semonsen is a political journalist based in Central Europe. His work has been featured in various English-language news outlets in Europe and the Americas. He has an educational background in biological and medical science. His Twitter handle is @R_Semonsen.