Although Ukraine is not a major drug producing country, its location astride several important drug trafficking routes into Western Europe leaves it vulnerable as an important transit country. Ukraine’s numerous ports on the Black and Azov seas, its extensive river routes, and its porous northern and eastern borders make Ukraine an attractive route for drug traffickers into the European Union’s (EU) illegal drug market.
Heroin from Afghanistan is trafficked through Russia, the Caucasus, and Turkey, before passing through Ukraine. Latin American cocaine is moved through Ukrainian seaports and airports for both domestic use and further transit to EU countries. Ukrainian law enforcement occasionally interdict large shipments of drugs in commercial shipments transiting southern ports. Usually, however, drugs are found in small quantities, ranging from several grams to several hundred grams.
The use of synthetic drugs and psychotropic substances, especially amphetamines, has been rapidly increasing in Ukraine over the past decade, following international trends. Synthetic drugs are trafficked to Ukraine primarily from Poland, Lithuania, and the Netherlands, but they are also produced locally in small clandestine labs.
Most domestic drug abuse, however, continues to be focused on drugs made from illicit drug crops (cannabis and opium poppy) grown in the region. These account for more than 90 percent of the total drug market in Ukraine. In most instances, these drugs are either locally produced or supplied from Russia and Moldova.
The number of registered drug addicts was 103,803 as of June 2013. However, various experts estimate the total number of actual drug addicts in Ukraine as ranging between 300,000 and 500,000.
The Ukrainian government continues to implement its five year (2010-15) anti-drug policy, aiming to pursue a "balanced but persistent" program of prevention, control, and enforcement. A bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty between the United States and Ukraine has been in force since 2001.