Germany and France oppose EU restrictions on luxury cars to Russia – Politico

Berlin and Paris say the focus of sanctions should be on military goods, the outlet reports

FILE PHOTO: A Mercedes-Benz car is displayed at a dealership of German car manufacturer Daimler AG, in Moscow, . ©  Sputnik / Evgenyi Samarin

Germany and France are opposing efforts by the EU to close a loophole that allows luxury cars and other high-end goods to reach Russia via Belarus, Politico reported on Thursday, citing diplomats.

Imports of cars from the EU to Belarus surged more than fourfold from 2021 to $2.6 billion last year, the outlet said, citing German Economy Ministry data. Experts observed the highest growth in the luxury car sector, which accounted for two-thirds of the total increase in imports, amounting to $1.4 billion in 2023. Researchers linked the growth to further re-export to Russia.

Both Berlin and Paris advocate “decisive measures” against sanctions evasion, but believe the focus should be on goods that serve Russian military efforts, French and German diplomats told the outlet.

The development comes as the EU is preparing to roll out new restrictions against Belarus in order to prevent Russia from bypassing Western sanctions regarding the Ukraine conflict.

The EU placed sanctions on Minsk in 2020. However, they are not as far reaching as those imposed on Moscow, enabling Belarus to transit sanctioned goods to Russia as the two countries have a common customs union and are closely integrated.

READ MORE: EU to target luxury car influx into Russia – FT

Western officials have complained that Russians have no problem buying Western-made cars in Belarus due to loopholes in the restrictions.

Opposition from Berlin and Paris has prompted EU members to consider whether to divide the 14th round of sanctions on Russia and similar measures against Belarus in order to reach an agreement before the G7 summit in Italy on June 13-15, the diplomats told Politico.

The new measures against Russia may also include a ban on re-loading and transshipment services for liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Russia destined for third counties, as well as on servicing Russian LNG projects in the Arctic. France, Spain, and Belgium have been major hubs for imports of Russian LNG, much of which is then re-exported to countries including Germany and Italy.

Since February 2022, when the Ukraine conflict began, Brussels has imposed 13 rounds of sanctions on Russia.


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