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US targets firms in UAE, Turkey over Russia sanctions evasion

The latest tranche of sanctions come as the Biden administration seeks to crack down on Russia’s financial facilitators.
The US Treasury Department in Washington, DC, on March 28, 2023. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration unveiled new sanctions Wednesday on more than 120 targets, including firms based in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, accused of bolstering Russia’s war effort in Ukraine and helping it evade sanctions. 

Since the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago, the United States and its Western allies have imposed heavy sanctions designed to isolate Moscow. To restrict the revenue that Russia needs to fund its war, the Treasury Department has cracked down on the intermediaries used to circumvent sanctions and export controls. 

“As the Kremlin seeks ways around the expansive multilateral sanctions and export controls imposed on Russia for its war against Ukraine, the United States and our allies and partners will continue to disrupt evasion schemes that support Putin on the battlefield,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement Wednesday. 

The Biden administration has previously warned that Turkish and Emirati businesses engaging with sanctioned Russian entities could lose access to G-7 markets and open themselves up to sanctions. 

On Wednesday, the Treasury imposed sanctions on Dexias, a Turkey-based industrial products firm allegedly used as an intermediary for Radioavtomatika, which the United States has previously designated over its procurement of foreign items for Russia’s defense industry. Also hit with sanctions was Turkey-based Azu International, which the Treasury accused of facilitating the backfill of electronics, including computer chips, to Russia. 

Separately, the State Department imposed sanctions on two Turkey-based shipping companies suspected of providing material support to Pola Raiz, a previously designated Russian shipping company. 

Elizabeth Rosenberg, Treasury's assistant secretary for terrorist financing, described the UAE last month as a “country of focus” for Russian sanctions enforcement. Between July and November of 2022, companies in the UAE exported more than $18 million worth of goods to US-designated Russian entities, Rosenberg said. 

Among the newly blacklisted UAE-based companies was Hulm Al Sahra Electric Devices Trading, an electrical appliance wholesaler that the Treasury said sent several shipments of electronics, machinery and optics to Russian companies, including nearly $190,000 of US-origin semiconductors. 

The Treasury also designated Aeromotus, a UAE-based company accused of sending technology produced by Chinese Da-Jiang Innovations, including quadcopter drones, to Russian importers since the start of the Ukraine invasion. 

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