‘An altered state: Evolving drug trends in wartime Ukraine’ is the first comprehensive analysis of intricate dynamics of drug trafficking and consumption in Ukraine amid the ongoing conflict. Since the Russian invasion in February 2022, the country’s drug trade has undergone significant transformations, affecting both supply and demand. Our study sheds light on these changes, offering a nuanced understanding of their implications.
A key aspect of the report is the exploration of shifting trends in drug demand. As civilians and soldiers alike seek solace from the stresses of conflict, the use of cannabis and synthetic stimulants has surged. The closure of major transit hubs has disrupted cocaine imports, leading to fluctuations in availability and price. Additionally, the pending legalization of medical cannabis presents both opportunities and challenges, raising questions about regulation and the prevalence of illicit supply channels.
On the supply side, while cocaine flows have adapted to the war scenario after an initial disruption, synthetic stimulants such as alpha-PVP and mephedrone have become increasingly accessible in Ukraine, with organized criminal groups playing a role in production and trafficking. Notably, the influence of Khimprom, a transnational criminal organization, has expanded since the beginning of the conflict. Khimprom’s reach extends to high-level officials and law enforcement officers, posing a significant challenge for authorities.
These developments carry profound policy implications. Law enforcement agencies and health professionals must adapt to the evolving landscape and prioritize harm reduction initiatives and research efforts. Collaboration with international partners is essential to disrupt trafficking operations and address gaps in the understanding of synthetic drugs. Efforts to combat the proliferation of synthetic stimulants and opioids, as well as the influence of criminal organizations such as Khimprom, require a coordinated and strategic approach.
During the event, we’ll showcase a new digital tool that analyzes drug markets in South and Eastern Europe, focusing on Ukraine. The tool provides an overview of drug flows and prices, drawing from our ongoing studies in the region. The tool offers an overview of drug flows and prices and draws from our ongoing studies in the region. It is designed to be a useful resource for policymakers, law enforcement, civil society, and public health professionals.
Join us as we delve into the complexities of Ukraine’s drug trade and work towards informed solutions to mitigate its impact on society.