Chair: Professor Martin Gill
Thomas Vonier – Architect and Senior Partner at Chesapeake Strategies Ltd. (France)
Euan Grant – Customs, Tax & Border Control Consultant at Grant & Gutsell Consultants (UK)
Philip Ingram MBE – Managing Director and Co Founder at Hephaestus Collective (UK)
Euan Grant discusses the broader implications of the war on eastern European countries and the important role the west will play in providing resources. He laments the ways in which countries work in silos, a joined-up approach will be key now. Euan outlines the ways in which Ukraine has a strategic position and the implications that flow from this. For the private security sector he identifies a number of challenges from the abuse of refugees, a likely increase in hostage taking, to organised crime which will be good at exploiting any loophole. Euan doubts that the security sector is properly geared up and it will face challenges all of its own such as staff being traumatised. Thomas Vonier takes a different and interesting stance highlighting the risks to cultural properties, and specifically the looting of cultural assets that is taking place in Ukraine (security personnel that would have been focussed on protection are often deployed in the war), adding to the damage being caused by guns and bombs. This provides another focal point for condemning Russia and garnering international support. Certainly, in the long run prosecutions are likely; damaging the national heritage creates a wound that is difficult to heel. Positively there is a community of specialists around the world that are active on this issue, it may not be on the front pages of media outlets, understandably given the widespread human suffering, but it is not being forgotten.
Philip Ingram reminds us that pre conflict there was a major problem with corruption in Ukrainian business, and he does not think that this has gone away, and points to some weapons that have been supplied being advertised for sale on the dark web. He notes that people are travelling in and out of Ukraine, but who are they and what are they doing? Are we sure they are not transporting weapons into foreign lands? The terrorist threat is very real, and there is also evidence of trafficking of women and children. Philip agrees the private sector security response is variable, and that will create security gaps. You will hear him discuss, human rights, the role of law, the threat of hostage taking, the role of sanctions against oligarchs (important because they represent an attack on Putin), and the stance China is taking.
This is a fast-evolving area. Ukraine is putting up a determined fight but in wars loopholes are created and the dangers to security are considerable, as each of the panellists showed, in different ways. This is clearly a space that needs to be watched carefully.
16th June, 2022