It’s strictly business: Brussels, Moldova arms control hub and hyprocrisy

Dr. Angelos Kaskanis

Project Manager - Tactics Institute

To combat organized crime, particularly the smuggling of guns from the nearby, war-torn Ukraine, the EU is establishing the EU Support Hub for Internal Security and Border Management, an Arms Control Hub, in Moldova.

“By experience from the previous war in former Yugoslavia, we still have problems with firearms being trafficked from there to the organized criminal groups, feeding into violence in the criminal networks in European Union,” EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson stated.

In the European Union they realize that the next day will find Ukraine full of arms, no matter who wins. A similar scenario to the period of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. But in parallel with these actions, initiatives and concerns, some are getting rich and some are being supplied with weapons.

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, Jürgen Stock, has said.

“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 ”.

“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.” Stock added.

New Arms for Ukraine

Every day we are informed about the military support to Ukraine. Agreements and exchanges of weapon systems by Member States where older ones are replaced with modernized models and older ones are used on the Ukrainian front.

That way everyone is happy. Companies are happy because after years production is increasing, member states and lobbyists are happy because agreements translate into money that ends up going to them too, and finally career politicians are happy because the military war machine that stays in Europe is being modernized and appears ready for action.

Numerous nations are sending to Kyiv much-needed coastal defense systems, tanks, and other armored vehicles, as well as artillery ammunition.

Germany had been negotiating with member states in eastern and southern Europe to trade some of their outdated Soviet-era arms and vehicles for more sophisticated and modernised German models.

Denmark committed to send a Harpoon anti-ship missile system, and the Czech Republic was offering attack helicopters, tanks, and rocket systems. Britain also said on May 20 that it has committed $566m so far to supporting the Ukrainian military.

In April, Spain shipped 200 tonnes of military equipment to Ukraine, including 30 trucks, several heavy transport trucks, and 10 small vehicles loaded with military material. Norway, Sweden and Finland, alla sent anti aircraft and tank misiles, among with thousand rounds of ammunition.


Deals with Russia

After the annexation of Crimea, EU member states pledged to stop any export of weapons systems and equipment to Russia. The reason was not just political or moral but also strategic as they feared a conflict in the European neighborhood, which came.

According to data from the official Working Party of the Council on Conventional Arms Exports (COARM), which was examined by Investigate Europe, a third of the member states of the European Union exported weapons to the Russian Federation.

This is despite a European Union embargo that has been in effect since 2014 and forbids the sale of armaments to Russia. Military equipment worth £230 million that is likely being deployed in Ukraine was delivered to Moscow by Paris and Berlin.

The Kremlin bought directly from Safran and Thales, whose main shareholder is the French state. Those arms are now present on board the helicopters, fighter jets, and land vehicles engaged in combat over Ukraine.

Arms worth €121.8 million was exported from Germany to Russia. 35 percent of all EU weapons exports to Russia come from this source. In addition to guns and “special protection” vehicles that were provided to Russia, it largely contained icebreaker ships.

Other EU members took also advantage of the legal loops and jumped in the market. Between 2015 and 2019, the Czechia supplied “aircraft, lighter-than-air vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles, aero-engines, and aircraft equipment.” Austria also continued to export ammunition and fuse setting devices, and specially designed components Bulgaria was also exporting naval vessels and special naval equipment.

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