“Made in Occupied Crimea”? A New Russian Scheme to Avoid Sanctions

The aim of sanctions, imposed by the European Union in June 2014 against the Russian Federation for occupying Crimea, is to make the aggressor pay a high price for encroaching on the territory of Ukraine and to prevent the peninsula's occupiers from doing business with civilised countries and organisations.

Sanctions without discussions...

The European Union's restrictive measures against the Crimean economy are currently in force until 23rd June 2020. The sanctions are extended almost automatically by the Member States for each subsequent year without much discussion. This should continue as long as the Ukrainian Crimea remains under Russian occupation. At least that is the current political stance of the European Union, its member states and the West, including some "Moscow-friendly" European capitals which are seeking to restore economic relations with the Russian Federation without any conditions and to return to “business as usual”.

Crimean sanctions include a complete ban on imports of goods from the peninsula, unless they have the appropriate certificates (permits) issued by the Government of Ukraine. Companies and financial institutions of the EU are also forbidden to export certain goods and technologies to Crimea, to carry out investment activities, or to provide tourist services. Ships are forbidden from entering the Crimean ports, including cruise liners. Ukraine has officially closed airports on the peninsula because safety cannot be ensured, hence making international aviation impossible. 

Siemens was not for Crimea but…

However, since 2014, many cases of sanctions violations have come to surface. The most recent one involves Siemens. The company supplied power plants turbines to the peninsula. When the breach became public the German manufacturer blamed the Russian side for the breach of contractual terms arguing that equipment was never supposed to end up in Crimea.

This is only one of many high-profile cases. We do not know the precise number of illegal dealings between the occupation regime and businessmen from the EU, and not only. There is a need for investigations as well as opening of cases in international courts.

The document, which will be discussed below, will help to shed some light on the illegal nature of activities taking place on the peninsula, and should alert governments, national regulators, international organisations, including the European Commission, as the governing institution of the EU, and the individual businesses, which are doing business with Russia.

Today, it cannot be excluded that the label “Made in Russia” in reality means the goods of Crimean origin that are actually under sanctions.

Aksenov’s scheme for Putin...

The origin of this important information is a letter from a puppet of the Russian occupation regime, the so-called "head of the Republic of Crimea", Sergei Aksenov, to his Kremlin master Vladimir Putin. The Crimean section of the Information Resistance project received the document from its sources.

“Due to the sanctions restrictions applied to the Republic of Crimea, a situation has arisen in which the production of certain types of products has significantly decreased. This situation is caused by a decrease in sales outside the Eurasian Economic Union and the Customs Union due to the refusal of some consumers to buy products made with the mark "manufacturer: Republic of Crimea", - complained Aksenov to Putin.

In fact, this letter is one of many indications that international economic sanctions against the occupied Crimea are having a devastating effect on its economy and cause billions in losses for the Russian federal budget, despite official bravura assurances from both local officials and Moscow officials. 

With failed tourist seasons, lack of electricity and water, lack of civilized aviation and maritime communications, colonization policies, mass repression and human rights abuses on the peninsula, Russia sees Crimea only as a zone for militarisation to maintain its geopolitical ambitions and to keep patriotic population in front of the television.

In his letter to Putin, Aksenov wants to draw attention to the critical situation with large enterprises, whose products can be used in the military-industrial complex. For example, there is a complete failure to export electrical instruments which are manufactured at the plant "Fiolent". He further writes that even the countries of CIS and the Customs Union do not want to buy this product. As a result exports have halved and finished goods have been accumulating in warehouses.

So, what does the representative of the Crimean occupation power asked the President of the Russian Federation to do? He asked to make amendments to the technical regulations of the Customs Union, as well as to the Russian legislation on the coding of information on the location of the manufacturer in case the products are supplied outside the Eurasian Economic Union. In reality, he proposed Putin to push through Russia-controlled international economic organisation a new scheme. 

Brand “Made in Russia” should be a warning for Europe... 

The aim is to mislead international trade partners and circumvent international sanctions. In order to do this, it is suggested to abandon the label “Made in Crimea” and simply mark the products as “Made in Russia”. According to Putin's resolution on the letter, the Minister of Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov, has been tasked with the implementation of the scheme proposed by Aksenov.

However, it is highly unlikely that electrical equipment or other engineering products, manufactured in Crimea, will interest anyone in the West. Even if these products are offered under the illegally “laundered” Russian brand.

At the same time, conscientious importers, national and international regulators in Europe now need to be clear: because of the scheme approved by the Kremlin, all Russian exports are becoming toxic. After all, no one lifted the sanctions. The occupier must pay a high price for the theft of the neighbour’s territory and damages inflicted upon a sovereign state.

Image: By Anton Holoborodko (Антон Голобородько) - http://www.ex.ua/76677715, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/...

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon


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