Russians break sanctions through Kazakhstan and Armenia

ALMATY/ DEC. 14 2022 (The Bulletin)  — Russian businessmen are using Kazakhstan and Armenia to send so-called parallel imports to Russia, skirting around US sanctions.

The accusation, made by the FT, will alarm the Kazakh and Armenian governments which have warned businesses not to break sanctions on Russia.

An investigation by The Bulletin has previously found that iPhones sold in Moscow shops are often stamped with a serial number that links them to Kazakhstan.

Traders in Kazakhstan or Armenia order extra quantities of products such as iPhones, vacuum cleaners and laptops. From there they are exported to Russia, with only a few questions asked. Both Kazakhstan and Armenia are part of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union which means there are no customs checks on the border.

Trade between Kazakhstan and Russia, for example, has stayed steady this year but the export of tech goods, which Kazakhstan doesn’t produce, has increased by 10 times, government data showed.

Some products such as microchips are harder to export to Russia as they can be used in military kit and are subject to a “super sanction” regime.

Last month the US government whacked sanctions on an Armenia-registered company which it said was a front for a Russian technology firm involved in the defence sector.


— This story was published in issue 531 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on Dec. 19 2022

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2022

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