EU Plans Action Over Fears of Ukraine War Arms Smuggling into Europe

This photograph taken in eastern Ukraine, on July 13, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, shows a rifle with strips of cloth in the colour of the Ukrainian flag. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)
MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

European Union member state ministers have expressed concerns over possible weapons flows from Ukraine to Europe, with a Swedish minister calling on the bloc to buy and destroy weapons.

European Union member state Interior and Migration Ministers held a meeting this week in Prague in which they discussed the possibility of weapons being smuggled out of the Ukraine conflict and falling into the hand of criminals in Europe.

“We know from experience that this often comes after or during a war. We need to be prepared from the outset,” EU Commissioner for Home Affairs and Migration Ylva Johansson said, the Swedish online magazine Europaportalen reports.

Swedish Minister for Migration and Integration Anders Ygeman, meanwhile suggested the EU be more active in preventing weapons from falling into the hands of criminals in the EU.

“There are many weapons from the former Yugoslavia in Sweden that are used by organized crime. We must take steps to control the flow of weapons after the war in Ukraine and also destroy weapons that are no longer needed,” Ygeman said.

“The lesson that we’ve learned from other conflicts is that I think you have to pay for those weapons in order to collect and destroy them,” he added.

Home Affairs Commissioner Johansson also announced the EU would be creating a hub in Moldova to tackle possible arms trafficking, although an unnamed EU official added, “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.”

Last month, Swedish police Inspector Gunnar Appelgren spoke out about the possibility of weapons from the war in Ukraine ending up in the hands of Swedish criminals saying, “There is a high risk of flows of illegal weapons entering Sweden.”

“A lot of automatic weapons came in, AK47s, Kalashnikovs. A number of years ago, hand grenades also entered these loads. It comes in transport in vehicles and buses,” Appelgren said, adding, “If there are weapons, there is a market, and if there are conflicts, there is a need for weapons. And we have conflicts in Sweden.”

Reports have also claimed that some have been advertising the sale of weapons from the Ukrainian conflict since at least May on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, with Soviet-era small arms being sold alongside American-made rifles like the M16 and the M4. Whether is it Ukrainians or Russians allegedly selling the weapons remains unclear.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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