This report from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime is concerned with a situation that not only encouraged criminalisation, but was based on it. Industrial-scale smuggling of everything from coal to narcotics helped sustain the internationally unrecognised pseudo-states of Donbas; gangsters became militiamen; and money laundering networks meanwhile bypassed sanctions. During the current conflict, criminals continued to cooperate across enemy lines, taking full advantage of the inability of law enforcement to do the same. It says that it was not just that crime in Donbas affected Ukraine, Russia and the rest of Europe – although it undoubtedly did – but also that addressing its underworld dimension would have been an essential but tragically under-recognised aspect of any resolution of the conflict.
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