EU border countries increase cooperation to stop Russian sanctions evasion

Russian-Estonian border in south Estonia.
Russian-Estonian border in south Estonia. Source: Leevi Lillemäe/ERR

Six EU countries and Norway agreed this week to deepen their cooperation to combat Russian sanctions evasion and will produce joint guidelines for doing so.

Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and EFTA member state Norway, met in Helsinki to coordinate a response and increase cooperation.

The European Union implemented a series of sanction packages on Russia after the country's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The majority of the EU's trade, including sanctioned goods leaving the block, are transported via border states and Russia to third counties as their final destination.

This means these countries have a responsibility to enforce and check compliance with the rules — including whether they arrive at the correct destination countries.

Russian flag at Ivangorod Fortress, opposite of Narva at the Estonian-Russian border. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

"In view of the effectiveness of sanctions, Russia has invented many ways to circumvent them," a statement from the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The ministry said "continuous deep cooperation and unified efforts" are needed between countries to "further tackle evasion and circumvention".

It was agreed to deepen cooperation on sanctions implementation against Russia and Belarus, strengthen the uniform application of customs controls, work towards harmonizing the granting of authorizations, and increase regular exchanges of information and best practices, the ministry said.

The countries will also produce joint guidance for economic operators to detect sanctions evasion and circumvention.  

Representatives from Sweden, which holds the EU Presidency, and the European Commission, also attended the meeting.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) recently said she had "pleaded" with local companies to stop helping Russia break sanctions.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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