Russia’s Strategic Use of Occupied Ukraine in Heroin Trafficking to the EU

In a recent report published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Europol Europol, a new dimension of Russia’s war against Ukraine has surfaced, highlighting a shift in the landscape of international drug trafficking. The report, titled “Heroin and Other Opioids,” uncovers how the conflict has altered the dynamics of heroin trade routes into the European Union European Commission.
The study sheds light on the evolution of the Caucasian heroin trafficking route, traditionally spanning from Georgia across the Black Sea to Bulgaria and Romania. With the escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, this path has ominously expanded into the territories of Ukraine occupied by Russia. This development underscores a tactical shift in the narcotics trade, exploiting the turmoil of war and the lack of governance in these occupied regions.
Recent years have witnessed substantial heroin seizures along this route, indicating its growing prominence as a channel for opiate smuggling from Iran into Europe, traversing Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and now, the Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories. This strategic use of the occupied areas not only signifies a diversification in the drug trade routes but also raises concerns about the broader implications of the conflict on regional security and stability

The report suggests that these Ukrainian territories under Russian control are increasingly serving as critical junctures for the transit and storage of heroin, marking a troubling confluence of geopolitical conflict and international drug trafficking. This revelation presents a complex challenge, intertwining issues of international law, regional stability, and the ever-evolving landscape of global narcotics trade.

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