Cyprus’ efforts in implementing anti-Russia sanctions praised

The ambassador of Ukraine in Cyprus, which has been under scrutiny for its close economic relations with Russia, stated that Cyprus is rendering an “extremely important” contribution to the effort to increase sanctions pressure on Moscow.

After joining its EU counterparts in sanctioning the Russian Federation for its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Cyprus effectively terminated such connections with Moscow. Ukraine’s ambassador to Cyprus, Ruslan Nimchynskyi, told Reuters that the country’s help in tightening sanctions on Russia is crucial.

Ukraine’s ambassador praised Cyprus’ efforts in anti-Russia sanctions

The fact that Cyprus backs and implements the EU-imposed international sanctions and limitations on Russia is essential. The fact that Cyprus has not obstructed the implementation of stricter restrictions or the adopting of new sanctions packages is another encouraging development, he added.

Many Russian enterprises have relocated their headquarters to other countries due to the EU economic sanctions, although Cyprus was formerly a major conduit for foreign direct investment into Russia.

Russian financial conglomerate TCS Holding, which controls the internet branch of Tinkoff, is one of the most recent Russian enterprises to leave Cyprus.

Russian companies leave Cyprus

Following Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, financial intermediaries in Cyprus sought to protect the assets of oligarchs from the looming sanctions, yet only a few Cypriots have been individually sanctioned by the United States and the UK. This was reported last year by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. 

The Cypriot government is reportedly obtaining technological help from the US to seal any possible gaps in sanctions enforcement and block sanctions evasion schemes, and it has declared “zero tolerance” for the practice.

The Bank of Cyprus, the largest lender on the island, confirmed in April 2023 that it would close approximately 10,000 accounts belonging to 4,000 Russian depositors. Rumors circulated that the UK and the US would add additional Cypriots and businesses with a base in Cyprus to their sanctions lists to further punish Russia for its war in Ukraine.

New US sanctions against Cypriot firms

In December 2023, US authorities sanctioned four Cypriot firms after finding evidence linking them to the sale of material used by Russia in its war against Ukraine.

According to a statement from the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, these corporations are directly or indirectly aiding the Kremlin’s goals, notably assisting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that the network, led by Belgium-based Hans De Geetere, is involved in procuring electronics with military applications for Russia. It said the network consists of nine entities and five people based in Russia, Belgium, Cyprus, Sweden, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands.

Eriner LimitedThe Mother Ark LtdLar Vorto Services Limited, and Ahetei Limited are the companies. Belgian entrepreneur Hans De Geetere, who is also under investigation, is linked to all four firms.

According to US investigators, De Geetere and his network sought to ship electronic products to Russia via Hong Kong, China, and Turkey in certain cases. Russia appears to have exploited the equipment for military objectives.

The US accused the Belgian businessman, who runs Cypriot companies, of being a long-time procurement agent for Moscow, providing Russian clients with parts used in military technology.

In another case, in September, a Russian and German citizen, Artur Petrov, was arrested in Cyprus for illegally exporting sensitive US military microelectronics to Russia in violation of US export controls.

The detained Russian man is accused of participating in the illegal procurement of large quantities of sensitive US-made microelectronics for a Russian company that supplies it to manufacturers of military equipment.

US and EU aim at blocking sanctions evasion schemes

While the United States and the European Union mobilize to provide Ukrainians with anti-missile systems to defend their cities from Russian missile attacks, Moscow continues to bombard Ukraine with the help of Western technologies.

Failure to prevent Russia from acquiring Western technologies for its armament means postponing Ukraine’s victory and bringing Putin’s war closer to the EU’s borders.

Therefore, the US has increased its efforts to crack down on Russia’s attempts to circumvent Western sanctions in order to ensure their enforcement.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States, European Union, and other Western nations imposed a multitude of sanctions on Moscow, including targeting Russian banks and dictator Putin, as the partners sought to hold Russia accountable for its war that has killed hundreds of thousands and left Ukrainian cities in ruins.

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