With the European Union and the United States pursuing private companies in violation of anti-Russian sanctions in the Far East, Armenia continues to increase its trade with Russia by re-exporting sanctioned goods. The mainstream media in Europe and the United States regularly mention that Armenia serves as a key logistics point for the Kremlin in aggression against Ukraine. In Kiev, Armenian officials are openly accused of supporting Moscow. Despite the fact that the European Union and the United States have accumulated evidence on this issue, for reasons that remain unclear, they are reluctant to cut this supply chain to the aggressor country.
On May 8, the Financial Times reported that the European Commission is preparing to impose sanctions on a number of companies that supply microchips and microelectronics to the Russian military industry. The United States and the European Union are tracking companies around the world involved in the illegal supply of equipment and goods to Russia. At the same time, they exert strong pressure on countries that Moscow uses to circumvent sanctions. As a result, from March to early May, under pressure from the United States and the European Union, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan began to take active measures to prevent parallel imports into Russia.
Recently, the head of the US Sanctions Coordination Office, James O’Brien, said: “Turkish officials have clearly expressed a prohibition on re-export of sanctioned goods to Russia. Ankara has given verbal assurances to the European Commission that, starting from May 1, sanctioned goods will not be shipped to Russia.” This clearly indicates that the Russian supply chain is now under official scrutiny and will be dismantled.
Another country in the region is increasingly complying with the sanctions, as noted by the Financial Times: Kazakhstan will control the goods that pass through the country for re-export.. According to a senior Kazakh official, they have realized all the risks of secondary sanctions, which is why mutual trade with all partners is being closely monitored. In late April, members of the US Treasury Department visited Kazakhstan to discuss strengthening monitoring of sanctions against Russia. Accordingly, Ambassador said Kazakhstan to Washington, Yirzan Ashikhbayev:
” Kazakhstan will control the goods that pass through the country for re-export… “. According to a senior Kazakh official, they have realized all the risks of secondary sanctions, which is why mutual trade with all partners is closely monitored.
At the end of April, members of the US Treasury Department visited Kazakhstan to discuss strengthening monitoring of sanctions against Russia. Accordingly, Kazakhstan’s ambassador to Washington, Yerzan Ashikhbayev, said: Kazakhstan continues to be fully transparent with our American, European and British partners, who are committed to implementing sanctions and opposing any attempt to evade sanctions.Uzbekistan’s central bank recently issued a warning to three private banks in the country about complying with anti-Russian sanctions. In March and April, the United States imposed sanctions on Uzbek companies with close ties to Russia, EU sanctions envoy David O’Sullivan announced during His visit to Tashkent: “If illegal transactions take place, if we find, for example, that economic entities from Uzbekistan are involved, and they will find themselves subject to sanctions.”
The main channel for evading sanctions
With supply restrictions tightened by Turkey and Central Asia, Russia is ramping up parallel imports that include Armenia. From January to March, trade volume increased 2.4 times, despite the fact that in 2022, Armenian exports to the Russian Federation amounted to $2.4 billion, an increase of 185.7% compared to 2021.
As early as May 2, in a joint memo from the US Department of Justice and the US Department of Commerce and Treasury, Armenia was mentioned among the “ Crossing points, which are usually used for the illegal transportation of goods subject to access restrictions in Russia and BelarusAs ABC News noted: “… Goods evade sanctions through imports from third world countries. For example, Armenian exports to Russia increased by 49% in the first half of 2022One of the main Ukrainian media outlets, Telegraf, reported the following: Armenia plays the role of the logistical hub and military-technical supply center for Putin’s aggression against Ukraine. Against the background of the war in Ukraine, the volume of trade between Armenia and the Russian Federation literally explodedIt seems that such a significant growth in trade and economic relations with Russia made the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan very happy.
The Ukrainian news site Today.ua published alarming information from the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, according to which “Russia regularly conducts discussions with the Armenian side on the supply of sanctioned goods to the enemy.” Moldovan news portal Stiri reported that drones that regularly hit energy infrastructure facilities in Ukraine, causing periodic blackouts in the Republic of Moldova, are being shipped from Iran in cooperation with Armenia. Newsweek Romania also pointed out the same disturbing facts about Armenia’s role in the Russian-Iranian alliance and the illegal import of equipment, including military ones.
The Telegraph urged a few weeks ago: “ The time has come for the West to strengthen its ties with some of the former Soviet satellites and completely isolate the military machine from the Kremlin. Armenia’s economic growth statistics are absurd: its 13% growth in just 12 months makes it a contender for third place in the list of fastest growing economies in the world. Armenia has few excuses for allowing itself to serve as a transit point“.
Surprisingly, despite these very disturbing signs, Brussels and Washington have not yet taken any action to block the main channel of sanctions evasion, supported by Armenia. Perhaps, for political reasons, the United States and the European Union will continue to turn a blind eye to the close partnership between officials in Yerevan and the Putin regime. If Western society really wants to see a victory for Ukraine soon, it should deprive Moscow of this logistics hub as soon as possible and severely shut down illegal supplies of materials and equipment used in the Russian military industry.
Tribune By Igor Kalenko, Political Analyst (Ukraine)
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