On 23-24 February, Frontex hosted a meeting in Warsaw dedicated to firearms smuggling from Ukraine following the Russian aggression. It was the first in a series of events focusing on firearms trafficking.
More than 40 representatives from border and customs authorities from 30 EU and Schengen-area countries attended the event, sharing their analytical and operational findings. The objective was to raise awareness of smuggled firearms, reflect on means of weapons concealment, enhance detection, and propose recommendations for improved operational cooperation.
Frontex supports combatting firearms smuggling with several activities, one of them is training. The agency developed a specialised handbook to assist national border and customs authorities in both EU and non-EU countries in reinforcing their operational response against arms-related crime. The meeting was also the opportunity for Frontex to present an addendum to this handbook, focused on weapons trafficking following the invasion. It provides comprehensive knowledge related to firearms, their parts and ammunition, associated documentation, and specifically the phenomenon of firearm trafficking globally and regionally.
Mikko Martiila, European Firearms Experts Vice-Chair: “Frontex has once again taken the initiative to help national police forces, border guard and customs authorities in their endeavour to fight arms-related crime. This event is an excellent opportunity for us and our partners to share our knowledge on weapons smuggling, discussing particular cases of interest as well as the current cooperation with Ukraine on smuggling counteraction. Now more than ever, combatting firearms smuggling must be one of the key priorities for all law enforcement authorities in their duty to protect EU citizens.”
All participants agreed that preventive measures must be put in place to address its possible long-term effects, for example large stockpiles of diverted weapons becoming source of illegal weapons in the EU.
Frontex is also organising a follow-up expert meeting with Ukrainian and Moldovan authorities to continue its steady support to the authorities of both countries in countering firearms trafficking, particularly within the EU support Hub for Moldova.