John P. Ruehland – Globetrotter
On November 1, the deputy director of Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation downplayed remarks made on October 30 by an agency official, who warned of Western weapons bound for Ukraine being smuggled into Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Nonetheless, the affair generated significant attention and reflected previous concerns expressed by European authorities over Ukraine’s vulnerability to organized crime and the repercussions for the continent.
Organized crime emerged as a potent force in Ukraine after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Criminal groups exploited flawed economic privatization measures to amass significant economic power, while the collapse of the Soviet security state allowed armed criminal factions to replace government authority and entrench themselves permanently.
These developments were mirrored in many former Soviet states in the 1990s, including Russia. But after Vladimir Putin assumed the Russian presidency in 2000, he and his allies in Russia’s intelligence community reestablished a strong security apparatus and clamped down on many domestic organized crime syndicates.
However, the Kremlin chose not to eradicate them completely. Wary of further violence, Putin sought to consolidate power rather than risk a return to the instability that characterized Russia in the 1990s….