The European Union is preparing to sanction military and tech firms from China, Kazakhstan, Serbia, and other countries helping Russia's war effort, according to a document seen by RFE/RL, as the bloc steps up efforts to curtail evasion.
Russia has managed to overcome sweeping EU and U.S. technology sanctions aimed at stifling its military-industrial complex by rerouting crucial goods like microprocessors through friendly third nations, such as China. The West has been cautious to date about targeting companies in third countries amid concerns over alienating leaders, choosing diplomacy instead. But with Russia ramping up missile and other weapons production with Western-made chips, pressure is growing on Brussels and Washington to take action. Now, ahead of the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the EU is expected to announce a 13th package of Russia-related sanctions that targets entities in six foreign countries, according to the document seen by RFE/RL. The targets include four firms from China and one each from Kazakhstan, Serbia, India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and NATO-member Turkey. Brussels has so far sanctioned three Chinese firms in past packages and has been in discussions with Beijing over China's growing role in supplying Russian companies with nonlethal but militarily useful equipment. If included in the final version, the Serbia-based firm Conex Doo Beograd-Stari Grad would be the first company from the Balkan country to be included in an EU sanctions package tied to the war in Ukraine. Elem Group has denied any wrongdoing and Kazakhstan's Ministry of National Economy claimed in December that the company has not been trading with foreign entities since May. The company was incorporated in Kazakhstan less than three weeks after Russia's invasion and one of its founders, Russian businessman Kirill Tulyakov, was also a founder of Streloi E-Kommerts. The new sanctions list, which includes companies and individuals, will continue to be debated in Brussels as the bloc looks to revitalize waning levels of Western support and assistance to Ukraine.