In the wake of rising arms smuggling in Ukraine amid its ongoing conflict with Russia, the European Union [EU] Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson announced said that arms smuggling will "feed into violence in the criminal networks in European Union as she announced a support hub in Moldova on July 11 to tackle the situation.
The EU Support Hub for Internal Security and Border Management will focus on preventing weapons to battle organized crime from war-torn Ukraine majority of which are supplied by NATO
Such smuggling will "feed into violence in the criminal networks in European Union," Johansson said, adding that the hub will be a "one-stop-shop" allowing the EU's border guard agency Frontex to support local border agencies, and will enable Europol to share information.
Highlighting the discrepancies in the arms-dealing process, an EU official said, "It is hard to avoid weapons-smuggling. 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," speaking anonymously, to EUobserver.
Further, Aija Kalnaja, interim head of Frontex, said Moldova was chosen as a base of operations "because this is where the trafficking of weapons can come mostly."
Increasing local capacity and countering human trafficking, each member state will also deploy law enforcement officers to the hub's head office which will be operating from the Moldovan capital Chisinau, said the EU Home Affairs Commissioner.
As per the reports by EUobserver, Ukraine has a long history of illegal arms trade with the most prominent case being that of the MV Faina, a Ukrainian cargo ship that was caught trafficking tanks, artillery and AKM assault rifles to Sudan in 2009.
The incident came to light when the ship was captured by Somali pirates.
Notably, the new hub comes amid urgent pleas from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to boost weapons and ammunition supplies to help counter Russian advances in the country's east and south.
Washington's heavy outpour of missiles, rockets, and artilleries to war-torn Ukraine recently has raised fears of the powerful weapons entering Ukraine's illicit arms market and that some of them could also re-emerge in faraway conflicts for decades to come. President Joe Biden is expected to sign a USD 40 billion security-assistance package in the upcoming days amid urgent pleas from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to provide artillery needed to counter Russian forces in the country's east and south.
The emergency spending bill awaiting approval in the US Senate will cement Ukraine's status as the world's single largest recipient of US security assistance, receiving more in 2022 than the United States ever provided to Afghanistan, Iraq or Israel in a single year.
The bill will also add to the stocks of weapons the US already committed to Ukraine, including 1,400 Stinger antiaircraft systems, 5,500 antitank missiles, 700 Switchblade drones, 90 long-range Howitzers artillery systems, 7,000 small arms, 50,000,000 rounds of ammunition, and numerous other mines, explosives and laser-guided rocket systems.