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Yle: Sanctions not halted import of luxury cars via Finland, into Russia

Finnish border guards.
Finnish border guards. Source: SCANPIX/AFP/Alessandro Rampazzo

Luxury Western-made vehicles are still finding their way into the Russian Federation via Finland, despite European Union sanctions, Finnish public broadcaster Yle reports.

Following a tip, Yle journalists attached radio tracking transmitters to vehicles arriving in Finland via container ship from Germany, to follow their onward journey.

It transpired that this onward journey saw the vehicles ending up in the Russian Federation – in Tomsk, to be precise.

Import documentation had stated the luxury cars would transit via Kazakhstan, which, as a non-EU, "third" country, would not have made them a sanctioned item.

In reality the Kazakhstan stage was cut out; the ruse also involves a separate customs document for use once in Russia, stating the shipment is heading there in any case, and not via a third country, Yle reports.

Finnish authorities say apprehending companies illegally transporting sanctioned items to Russia is challenging, and not every truck, for instance, can be checked even with the reduced volume of trade in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

The lengthy chain of firms, some of them registered in Finland itself, involved in export lines further muddies the waters.

Yle reporters also revealed that several Russian-owned transport firms have seen bumper turnover and profits recently despite the EU sanctions.

One industry spokesperson told Yle that from what they could see, the activity had grown exponentially since the invasion.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of the Russian-owned logistics firms identified wished to speak to Yle; Finland's Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen called for greater vigilance in cracking down on sanctions evasion.

Yle's English-language page also reported on significant numbers of Russian-registered luxury vehicles literally gathering dust in Finnish parking lots; as in Estonia, bringing vehicles into Finland which have Russian license plates is forbidden.

Other profitable sanctions evasions tactics recently reported include a sum of the whole approach; in other words, while a manufactured item might be subject to an export ban to Russia, its constituent parts are not – so these can be freely exported then reassembled once inside Russia, it seems.

Russia is not noted for having a luxury car manufacturing sector of its own; the country's first supercar, the now-discontinued Marussia B1, was powered by a British-made Cosworth engine.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mark Gerassimenko

Source: Yle

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