Crimintern: the Kremlin and Russia’s criminal networks in Europe

What is the extent of the problem? What measures should Europe use to combat it?


Mark Galeotti, Visiting Fellow, ECFR; Senior Research Fellow, Institute of International Relations Prague

Edward Lucas, Senior Editor, The Economist

Chaired by

Jeremy Shapiro, Research Director, ECFR

There is growing evidence of connections between criminal networks in Europe and the Kremlin’s state security apparatus. Over the past 20 years, the role of Russian organised crime in Europe has shifted considerably. Today, Russian criminals operate less on the street and more in the shadows: as allies, facilitators, and suppliers for local European gangs and continent-wide criminal networks.

Russian-based organised crime (RBOC) groups in Europe have been used for a variety of purposes, including as sources of ‘black cash’, to launch cyber-attacks, to wield political influence, to traffic people and goods, and even to carry out targeted assassinations on behalf of the Kremlin.

European states and institutions need to consider RBOC a security as much as a criminal problem. What is the extent of the problem? What measures should Europe use to combat it? How can we increase exchange between national intelligence agencies and police forces? How to create a common European approach to combat money laundering? What role can the UK play?

Mark Galeotti (@MarkGaleotti) is Visiting Fellow at ECFR and the author of recent policy brief “Crimintern: How the Kremlin uses Russia's criminal networks in Europe”. He is also senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague, where he coordinates the Centre for European Security, and principal director of the Mayak Intelligence consultancy.

Edward Lucas (@edwardlucas) is a Senior Editor responsible for Espresso, the Economist’s daily news app. He has written extensively about Central and Eastern Europe since the last years of the Cold War. He is also a senior vice-president at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).

Jeremy Shapiro (@JyShapiro) is Research Director at ECFR. Previously he was a fellow in the Project on International Order and Strategy and the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings, where he edited the Foreign Policy program's blog Order from Chaos.