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Eurasianet is an independent news organization that covers news from and about the South Caucasus and Central Asia, providing on-the-ground reporting and critical perspectives on…

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Sanctioned Goods Are Sneaking Into Russia Through Kazakhstan

  • Despite initial sanctions against Russia encompassing around 7,000 goods, Kazakhstan has managed to negotiate this number down to 104 items under focus.
  • The US has raised concerns about Kazakhstan and Armenia serving as channels for Russia to import banned technology used for its military campaign in Ukraine.
  • The Kazakh minister noted that over 100 companies are under close scrutiny to control the transport of sanctioned goods, focusing particularly on computer chips and components used in electronic systems for Russian missiles and drones.

A senior official in Kazakhstan has conceded that a certain volume of dual-use goods is being delivered to neighboring Russia, despite efforts to prevent that from happening. 

Trade and Integration Minister Serik Zhumangarin told U.S.-funded broadcaster RFE/RL, however, that items like microchips are being subjected to more rigorous controls to track their movements.

“When the sanctions [against Russia were first imposed, representatives of Western countries responsible for enforcement] handed us a list of 7,000 types of goods that were the object of sanctions. In other words, our entire trade turnover. When we spoke with them, we said: ‘This cannot all be blocked or traced,’” Zhumangarin told RFE/RL.

The minister said that the Kazakh government has been negotiating with its U.S. and EU interlocutors to have the number of items reduced. The final list has been compiled on the basis of parts located in Russian weapons intercepted in Ukraine, he said.

“Currently, there are …. 104 types of goods. This is a work in progress,” Zhumangarin said.

The minister said that more than 100 companies are under close scrutiny.

“I cannot tell you their names,” he said. 

Washington has been especially outspoken over its concern that Kazakhstan is being used as a conduit by Russia for the importation of material that could be used for its military campaign in Ukraine. 

During a visit to the country in April, Matthew Axelrod, the assistant secretary for export enforcement at the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security, noted that countries like Kazakhstan are being used as a transshipment point for banned items. U.S. officials likewise identified Armenia as another important channel for Russia to import banned technology.

“We are prioritizing items such as computer chips, as well as elements used in integrated electronic systems needed for Russian missiles and drones,” Axelrod said, in remarks translated into Russian by Kazakh media. “We are not talking about iPhones or washing machines. We are talking about specific items of computer technology used to power and navigate missiles and drones used by the Russian military machine to kill civilians and soldiers on Ukrainian soil. I want to make it very clear that the supply of such items to Russia through Kazakhstan is in direct violation of export controls.”


By Eurasianet.org

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