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17 November 2022

Report warns of 'opportunities for organised crime' amid war

A new report authored by a King’s College London academic examines the impact of the war in Ukraine on organised crime and security in the surrounding region.

The report examines the impact of the war in Ukraine on the surrounding region. Picture: STOCK IMAGE

The report was published this month by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute and offers insights into areas including law enforcement, human trafficking, arms dealing, drug smuggling and cybercrime.

Among the report findings, author Dr Alexander Kupatadze revealed that the forced displacement of millions of people from the areas of conflict had “generated opportunities for traffickers and human smugglers”, while the market in arms, drugs and other commodities had recovered from an initial slump at the start of the invasion in February and had since returned to pre-war levels.

Dr Kupatadze, from the King’s Russia Institute, added that the war had “undoubtedly provided fertile ground for new illicit activities to thrive” and warned of the risk of criminal actors attempting to exploit power vacuums after the active phase of the war had ended, thereby spreading regional instability.

He said: “Given the country’s complex nature and history of organised crime, there is a risk that a post-conflict Ukraine will not be able to implement its existing governance commitments against corruption and kleptocracy, exacerbating state fragility and undermining legitimacy.”

The report also offered a series of nine recommendations for stakeholders in the region to consider in their efforts to address some of the security and crime issues raised in the report.

The recommendations:

  • Establish or strengthen mobile cross-border/ anti-trafficking units drawing on proven expertise within European countries, Europol, Interpol, Moldovan, and Ukrainian law enforcement communities.
  • Establish ongoing research and intelligence systems as a key element to understanding and anticipating emerging threats.
  • Provide technical assistance to build capacity and professional skills tailored to law enforcement operational mandates.
  • Support the development of a National Strategy and Action Plan to counter radiological and nuclear trafficking.
  • Consider conducting training and capacity building on chemical emergency response for the civilian population in Ukraine, given the potential risk of chemical or related incidents.
  • Provide training and capacity building to prosecute chemical and biological crimes for investigators and prosecutors in Ukraine and Moldova.
  • Increase public awareness of the threat posed by cybercrime and disinformation and educate citizens on how to be better consumers of information.
  • Support and strengthen the implementation of updated cybersecurity strategies.
  • Support and monitor law-enforcement reform implementation in the longer term.


You can read the report in full here.

In this story

Alexander Kupatadze

Senior Lecturer, King's Russia Institute