Exports to former Soviet Union states increased since the West imposed sanctions on Russia

The Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment of Ireland acknowledged the possibility of sanctions being circumvented through third countries, according to a spokesman for the department. A spike in trade sparks speculations that that former Soviet states, bordering Russia, are used for sanctions circumvention.

Exports to former Soviet Union countries increased since Russia started the war

According to CSO data, the Republic of Armenia’s export value to Armenia increased from less than €0.9 million in 2021 to €6 million in the first year of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and finally to about €10.7 million in 2023. 

Irish exports to former Soviet republics have increased over the last two years, raising suspicions that they are being used to get around trade sanctions placed on Russia after it started a war against Ukraine, as Irish Examiner reported.

According to official trade data, Ireland’s total exports to a single nation that has strong trading relations with Russia have surged by more than 50 times since 2021. There is a possibility that some Irish businesses are shipping goods that end up in Russia against EU restrictions.

Certain kinds of goods, like oils, chemicals, and machinery, have frequently seen a steep decline in exports to Russia. This has often coincided with Ireland’s initial shipments of the same products to former Soviet Union states.

The European Commission has advised all EU-based exporters to implement “adequate diligence measures” to prevent circumvention of Russian trade restrictions.

Exporters were advised to use extra caution while exporting goods to third nations since they could be easily redirected to Russia.

Unusual trade with Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Armenia

The commission stated that there was a chance to get around the restrictions, especially with regard to nations that are part of the Eurasian Economic Union, such as Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Armenia.

According to data released by the CSO, Armenia’s exports increased in value from less than €0.9 million in 2021 to €6 million in the first year of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and about €10.7 million in 2023.

Over the previous two years, Ireland’s exports to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have experienced notable rises in value.

Over the same time period, exports from a wide range of nations, including China, Poland, and Britain, have been shown to have increased significantly for a number of former Soviet Union nations.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, which is in charge of enforcing trade sanctions against Russia, acknowledged the possibility of penalties being evaded through third parties in a statement from its representative.

A trade flow analysis, according to the spokesman, showed that trade volume with third nations was at “a low level in relation to overall trade levels.”

Legitimate exports to certain nations will always occur, but in cases where trade spikes seem suspect, the trade’s constituent parts are investigated and appropriate action is taken, according to the spokeswoman.

EU sanctions prohibit the sale, supply, transfer, or export of dual-use technology and equipment to Russia. This includes specific goods that could help Russia advance its economic, military, and technological capacities.

These devices include computers, unmanned aircraft, generators, IT parts, cameras, solvents, and machinery. Products and technology meant for Russia’s space, airplane, and energy sectors are also prohibited.

Luxury goods, electronic components, and intellectual property rights are forbidden items. The corresponding prohibitions apply to the provision of technical support, brokering, and other services for products subject to sanctions.

In accordance with EU legislation, exporters of technology and goods that are very sensitive must legally forbid the re-exportation of their goods to Russia.

According to CSO data, the Kyrgyz Republic received approximately €1.9 million worth of chemical ingredients and machinery tailored for certain industries last year. In 2021, these exports had no value.

In Ireland, where no comparable products had been sold before 2022, over €1.3 million worth of “essential oils, perfume materials, toiletries, and cleansing preparations” were shipped to the Kyrgyz Republic last year.

Need for analysis of trade with former Soviet republics

In an effort to increase Ireland’s compliance with the existing sanctions regimes, the department stated that it was in constant communication with Irish exporters. According to the spokeswoman, officials were thinking about doing more in terms of stakeholder involvement and enforcement.

The trade with former Soviet republics must be examined, especially if unusual spikes are registered, as it can be a sign of anti-Russia sanctions violations. Western nations and companies should maintain a corporate responsibility when they deal with firms from former Soviet states to export dual-use components.

It is evident that dual-use goods exports are fueling the Putin regime’s war against Ukraine. The EU and the US should scrutinize companies from these former Soviet republics and impose secondary sanctions if they confirm their cooperation with Russian military factories.

Helping Moscow evade sanctions is leading to more civilians being killed in Ukraine by Russian strikes. Supporting Putin’s war machine undermines Western efforts to help Ukraine repel the Russian invasion and brings the war closer to the EU’s borders.

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