On 24 February, EUBAM and representatives of law enforcement agencies from Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, together with Europol, Frontex, OSCE and UNODC held, in a video-conference format, the third operational meeting of the Arms Working Group (AWG).
The participating agencies discussed and approved the AWG Action Plan for 2021, which includes activities such as regular and operational meetings, threat assessments, joint operations, international workshops and trainings.
Furthermore, the final version of the Guidebook on Controlled Delivery, prepared by EUBAM, in cooperation with the members of the AWG from the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, was introduced and approved during the meeting. The document aims at improving law enforcement and judicial cooperation between authorities involved in each of the countries, as well as knowledge of the national legislation and practices, thereby facilitating controlled deliveries as part of the joint efforts in fighting illicit firearms trafficking
The European agencies, Europol and Frontex, briefed the participants on the strategic picture of illicit trafficking in weapons, ammunition and explosives in Europe with a special focus on southeastern Europe, providing operational examples. Additionally, Europol offered to conduct a theoretical training on risk analysis for the members of the AWG.
OSCE representatives from Ukraine provided the AWG members with a comprehensive overview of OSCE projects in the region, giving an analytical picture of the proliferation of weapons in the area. OSCE will actively support the activities of the AWG by providing specific theoretical and practical training sessions for the law enforcement officers working in the field.
In their turn, the representatives of the Moldovan and Ukrainian law enforcement agencies gave an overview of the situation on the ground at their common border.
EUBAM briefed the participants on the results of the joint operation “ORION II” that aimed at preventing and counteracting illicit firearms trafficking in the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, including the EU external borders with the two partner countries. Although affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the operation resulted into a significant number of detentions of small arms (194 pcs.), light weapons (282 pcs.), ammunition (6,389 pcs.) and explosives (19 pcs./4,65 kg).
In the end, the members of the Arms Working Group expressed their content with the output of the meeting and affirmed their faith that the future activities planned within the Group would significantly increase the international cooperation and enhance their operational capacity in counteracting this phenomenon.
Nota bene: Arms Working Group was established in December 2019, at EUBAM and its Partner Services’ initiative, and with the support of Europol, Frontex and OSCE, for enhancing the efforts of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine in combating illicit firearms trafficking.