Russian Defense Ministry television channel Zvezda reported that the European Commission has published a document in which it accuses Ukraine of flooding the EU with heroin. The document in question is the European Commission’s first report to the European Parliament and the EU Council on EU visa liberalization pertaining to the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries. The report concerns three former Soviet republics, Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, all of whom have a visa free arrangement with the European Union. As regards Ukraine, the report states that Ukraine is “a transit country for various illicit commodities trafficked to the EU”. Nowhere in the report is Ukraine accused of flooding EU countries with heroin nor does the report allege that crime has increased since Ukraine entered into a visa free regime with the EU.
Pro-Kremlin site Ukraina.ru went even further claiming the European Commission called Ukraine a hotbed of drug trafficking, fraud and cyber- crime. Antifascist, Times.com, Svobodnaya Pressa and other pro-Kremlin sites disseminated this fake.
Visa free travel can be rescinded for various reasons, most of which have to do with migration and the EU closely monitors that countries adhere to agreed EU rules. In the report the European Commission noted that in Ukraine “the criteria for visa liberalization continue to be met,” but also pointed out the need to implement already enacted reforms, especially those related to combating corruption.
Regarding organized crime, the EU report states that heroin is trafficked in large quantities along the Caucasus route via Ukraine to the EU. Organized criminal groups originating from Ukraine are involved in excise fraud, particularly the production and smuggling of illicit tobacco products to the EU. The report also notes that Ukraine is a potential source country for illegal firearms trafficking to the EU.
The 2016 Drug Markets Report issued by the European Union’s law enforcement agency Europol states that the majority of heroin coming into the European Union originates in Afghanistan, while Turkish, Albanian and Pakistani organized criminal groups are the key suppliers of the EU heroin market.