Amid the unprecedented waves of EU and US sanctions imposed on Russia in the wake of its Ukraine invasion, and as tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions continue between Moscow and European capitals, among the last frontiers of Russia-Europe cooperation remains in the area of crime monitoring and data sharing.
But that too appears to be winding down, as Russian state media has announced the European Union has suspended its drug traffic data sharing program with Russian law enforcement agencies. "The EU has suspended contacts and data sharing with Russia as part of the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official said," TASS reports.
"The European Union has unilaterally suspended expert contacts and data sharing with us" as part of the EMCDDA, Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov confirmed. "The annual OSCE-wide Anti-Drug Conference has been postponed indefinitely," he added.
The Russian official slammed the move as counterproductive, with the inevitable consequence being that drug traffickers will be able to act with greater impunity as a country the size of Russia (literally the world's largest by land mass and border area) is cut out of the program.
"We believe this is a destructive approach. It plays into the hands of drug traffickers, who are taking advantage of the disagreements among countries to increase illicit drug supplies to Europe," he said.
Russia, however, remains and will likely continue to remain a vital country within INTERPOL – the world's largest international policing organization, representing 194 member countries.
According to the INTERPOL website, "Russia is the world’s largest country by area, and shares borders with countries in northern Asia and Europe. Identifying, investigating and preventing serious crime across Europe and Asia is a large part of the daily work carried out by INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau (NCB) in Moscow."
Further it highlights Russian law enforcement's importance in tracking international crime as follows: "The NCB’s global police cooperation activities are centered on Russia’s crime areas of priority concern; these include terrorism, organized crime – particularly drug and financial crime – and the international fugitive investigations these generate. Cybercrime is also an emerging crime area of concern." Given rapidly deteriorating diplomatic relations with the West, this too could eventually be threatened as a vital area of close coordination.