Serbian companies made millions from trading with Russia despite sanctions

Dozens of companies registered in Serbia since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, in Feb. 2022, have exported goods to Russia, thereby circumventing the West’s sanctions against that country, the Radio Free Europe website reports.

“Using international trade databases, Radio Free Europe (RFE) analyzed over 14,000 shipments delivered to Russia during this time. The data shows that products worth at least USD71.1 million were transported via Serbian companies, although said goods have been listed as high-risk and are covered by the sanctions the EU and U.S. levied against Russia,” the website reported.

As an example, the article mentioned the Belgrade-based company Kominvex, which, between the beginning of Russia’s invasion and August 2023 – i.e. in less than 18 months – exported goods worth over RSD140 million. A third of these products – goods worth upwards of USD50 million – were, according to customs declarations, electronic components restricted by the EU sanctions because they can be used in the defence industry, the website claimed. “The numbers indicate [Kominvex] is a large trading company, yet the building listed as its headquarters bears no sign whatsoever. No one answered the buzzer or the front door of the apartment unit,” the article said.

RFE said that Serbian companies were used to ship state-of-the-art technology products, including from the US INTEL and AMD. Goods were re-exported by Serbian companies from countries in eastern Asia to Russian companies which are under sanctions individually as part of the supply chain to the Russian military industry.

It also reported that the Serbian government and interior and external trade ministries did not respond to requests for comments and that the Customs Authority is refusing to release data on exports claiming it is protecting confidential company information.

Since the beginning of the war, Serbia has not aligned with any of the sanctions on Russia. “Months of research by Radio Free Europe show that in such a vacuum, without legal restrictions, certain Serbian firms have made millions,” it was said.

Neither the Serbian government nor the Ministry of Internal and Foreign Trade replied to inquiries made by the media house regarding how such trade is monitored and whether anyone will be held accountable for circumventing the sanctions. The Serbian Customs Directorate, which possesses data on imports and exports, has said it does not make individual exporters’ documentation publicly available to protect these companies’ trade secrets.

(Radio Free Europe, 08.11.2023)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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