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Dutch companies allegedly circumvent Russia sanctions via Turkey: report

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Dutch companies, whose exports to Turkey have recently surged, are suspected of circumventing European sanctions against Russia due to its war on Ukraine by exporting their products to the country via Turkey, the Amsterdam-based NL Times news website reported, citing official data.

While the export of Dutch products to Russia has decreased since the sanctions took effect after Russia launched its war on Ukraine in February 2022, Dutch exports to Turkey have increased significantly in the same period, according to the report.

In the second quarter of this year, 869 million euros of Dutch goods affected by the sanctions went to Turkey – 91 percent more than two years earlier, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reported.

Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU banned the export of goods such as microchips, transportation equipment, machinery and drones from EU countries to Russia.

NATO member Ankara opposes Western sanctions on Russia and has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbors. The country has said joining sanctions against Russia would have hurt its already strained economy and argued that it is focused on mediation efforts.

Dutch-made exports to Russia amounted to 285 million euros in the second quarter of 2023, 63 percent lower than two years earlier, before the invasion. At the same time, exports of Dutch products to Turkey and the Eurasian Economic Union Countries (EEU+) – Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan – grew by 42 and 75 percent, respectively.

In the second quarter of 2021, Russia was the second largest buyer of Dutch office equipment, covered by the sanctions and accounting for 10 percent of exports valued at 19.3 million euros. Two years later, no more Dutch office equipment was exported to Russia. In that same period, Turkey’s share of Dutch office equipment exports grew from 3.5 percent to 10 percent, with an export value of 15 million euros.

Trucks and buses are also on the sanctions list. In the second quarter of 2021, Russia had a 1.8 percent share in the export of Dutch trucks and buses, valued at around 11 million euros. Here, too, exports to Russia stopped, but exports to Turkey increased from 0.5 percent in the second quarter of 2021 to 3 percent in this year’s second quarter.

“Trucks and buses were also exported more to the EEU+ countries. The export value in the second quarter of 2023 was over 35 times higher than two years earlier,” CBS said. The export value of Dutch trucks and buses to Turkey and EEU+ countries amounted to 7 million and 23 million euros, respectively, in the second quarter of this year.

Turkey is frequently accused of serving as a hub for sanctions evasion, enabling Russia to circumvent these economic barriers.

Western countries and the EU, with its 11th sanctions package, are actively working to thwart Russia’s evasion tactics, engaging with the Turkish government to emphasize the risks and the need for compliance with international restrictions.

Last week, the US announced sanctions on individuals and companies it accused of abetting Russia’s war against Ukraine, targeting entities in Turkey, China and the United Arab Emirates in a bid to disrupt Moscow’s supply chains.

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