Conflict and Illicit Market Developments: Russian War in Ukraine

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Conflict and Illicit Market Developments: Russian War in Ukraine

By College of International Security Studies
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (May 12, 2022) - The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies hosted a hybrid panel discussion on April 25 to open a conversation on the relationship between conflicts and illicit markets and how it applies to the current conflict in Ukraine.

Approximately 50 participants from 30 different countries joined the event, which was held under Chatham House rule at the George C. Marshall Research Library.

The panel was part of the C3 Faculty Seminar series, which encourages Conversation, Collaboration and Community among experts about global security challenges.

The event was moderated by Dr. Cüneyt Gürer, professor of Transnational Security Studies at the GCMC, whose area of expertise covers countering transnational organized crime, transnational and comparative security issues/policies, political regimes and security, non-state actors and security and conflict and human displacement.

The speakers were Dr. Jay Albanese, professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University, expert in organized crime and corruption, professional ethics and transnational crime, and author and editor of 20 books on organized crime, ethics, corruption, transnational crime, and criminal justice; Dr. Tova Norlén, professor of counterterrorism and international security studies at the GCMC and academic advisor to the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies, with research exploring counterterrorism, ethnic and religious extremism, territorial conflict and intractability, and fragility and resilience to conflict risk factors; and Dr. Graeme Herd, Professor of Transnational Security Studies and Chair of the Research and Policy Analysis Department, expert in Putin’s operational code, Russian strategic culture, Russian foreign and security policy, and Russian strategic behavior.

After the Russian invasion the priority for Ukraine has to be to deter Russian aggression and defend its territory. However, there is a risk that shifting governance structures both during and after the war could create opportunities for organized criminal actors who seek to make financial profit. Strengthened illicit markets might undermine Ukraine’s success during the war and have negative effects on the country’s post-war recovery. Previous research and analysis on contemporary conflict and war have highlighted the intensified competition between non-state actors for power and control over lucrative resources.

By focusing on the illicit market opportunities, and how Russia could use these as a form of gray zone warfare against Ukraine, this event highlighted the risks of such developments by evaluating the current situation on the ground.

Experts assessed the threat level by highlighting any red flags that might pose a long-term threat to Ukraine. Conflict analysis has shown that there is a direct correlation between conflict and political fragility. The event aims to outline Ukraine’s vulnerability to such risk, and generate recommendations that can help Ukraine tackle post-war reconstruction more effectively.

For detailed information and about the key takeaways from the panel click here.