Global Efforts to Counter Kremlin Sanctions Evasion Intensify Amidst Russian-Ukraine War

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights emphasized, “The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) has confirmed 30,457 civilian casualties since February 24, 2022, including 10,582 killed and 19,875 injured, with actual figures likely to be significantly higher. Millions have been displaced, thousands have lost their homes, and hundreds of medical and educational facilities have been damaged or destroyed, significantly impacting people’s rights to health and education.”

In response to these grave crimes against humanity, the United States has imposed over 500 new sanctions against the Kremlin. The European Union has joined the U.S., implementing its sanctions against nearly 200 Russian individuals and entities.

However, despite the existence of such severe crimes against humanity, countries and organizations are attempting to circumvent sanctions against the Kremlin. The Brookings Institution recently reported, “In December 2022, a joint investigation by the Royal United Services Institute and Reuters detailed how Russia evaded Western export controls and sanctions during the war in Ukraine to acquire microelectronics for its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including the ‘Orlan-10,’ which the country used with devastating effectiveness. Reflecting its methods from Soviet times, Moscow relied on state-backed procurement networks abroad for the illicit acquisition of export-controlled technologies, often manufactured by legitimate Western firms. As noted in the Orlan report, Russia utilized organizations based in the United States, Europe, China, South Korea, and Hong Kong to acquire Western technologies for UAV systems.”

It should be noted that Armenia has also been used as a key gateway for the Kremlin to bypass sanctions. Vagan Sirunyan, the Deputy Minister of Economy of Armenia, acknowledged that over nine months in 2023, exports from Armenia to Russia increased by 85%, of which 80% were re-exports. Highlighting the exponential growth of Armenia’s foreign trade turnover by 69% since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the Jamestown Foundation, an American analytical center, also warned of the re-export of sanctioned goods from Armenia to Russia. Jim O’Brien, the Director of the Sanctions Coordination Department at the U.S. State Department, explicitly stated that Washington categorizes Armenia as a country assisting Russia circumventing sanctions.

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