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TOPIC: international sanctions

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Tricks For Dodging Sanctions — Or, Why You Can Still Buy A Coca-Cola In Moscow

After a year of full-scale war, Russian businesses have figured out tricks to get around international sanctions: reselling, repackaging, rerouting: Almost everything is available — for a price.

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia has found ways to acquire and replace the goods of companies which have left Russia or been prohibited by sanctions. They may be available in smaller quantities for higher prices, but consumers can still get almost everything they want.

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“By and large, sanctions have made no difference,” the owners and employees of logistics and foreign trade companies responded unanimously to the latest news about Russian import sanctions. They have adjusted over the past year and are confident that they can procure everything they need.

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How Russia Is Still Dodging Sanctions — With Help From Companies Everywhere

A healthy dose of cynicism and short cuts allows parts for weapons and other technology to still make their way into Russia. Independent Russian-language media Vazhnyye Istorii traces the way both Moscow and much of the rest of the world circumvent export bans.

When Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, exporting Western technologies to Russia was effectively banned — at least, on paper.

But through a web of third parties, Russia is still finding ways to dodge the sanctions and import crucial components for weapons and other technology.

In the United States, personal sanctions prohibit American citizens and companies from doing business with specific Russian people and businesses. Other sanctions prevent them from doing business with entire industries. Secondary sanctions may be imposed on non-US companies caught violating US prohibitions.

A special permit is required for any export of high-tech products to Russia. These are only issued in exceptional circumstances, if ever. The largest manufacturers of microelectronics — Analog Devices, Texas Instruments and others — have all ceased commercial activities in Russia.

Still, products made by these companies are increasingly being found in the remains of Russian drones and missiles.

Components continue to enter Russia through a chain of intermediary firms in different countries. For example, an American company can buy them from a manufacturer, then sell them to a Chinese company, which can in turn sell them to a Russian intermediary who is not formally connected with the defense complex — who will then transfer the goods to the arms manufacturer.

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