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UK announces sanctions targeting businesses, individuals seen as aiding ‘Putin’s war machine’

Anne-Marie Trevelyan ( Chris McAndrew/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The United Kingdom has imposed new sanctions on 46 groups and individuals in countries ranging from Serbia to China that it says are supplying and financing Russia’s war against Ukraine by helping it circumvent international sanctions.

The U.K. government said in a statement on December 6 that the sanctions target “foreign military suppliers” who are exporting equipment and parts to Russia and are “helping [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war machine.”

The new sanctions include entities and businesses operating in China, Turkey, Serbia, Belarus, and Uzbekistan.

Russian weapons manufacturers and defense importers were also on the list of newly imposed sanctions as well as “three actors” supporting the Wagner Group network and “four operators” of so-called “shadow fleet” vessels used by Russia to soften the blow of oil-related sanctions imposed by the U.K. alongside Group of Seven partners.

“This signals the UK’s no tolerance approach to those enabling Russia’s illegal war, wherever they may be,” the statement said.

Sanctions Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan added that the sanctions “will hit Putin where it hurts, damaging Russian defense systems, and cracking down on illegal supply chains propping up Russia’s war machine.”

Ales Luci, the owner of Serbia’s Avio Chem, one of the companies on the list, told RFE/RL that he stopped cooperating with Russian companies, though he could not specify exactly when.

“It is not clear to me what we have to do with Great Britain when Serbia does not have any sanctions against Russia, nor has it introduced any,” Luci said.

An investigation by RFE/RL’s Balkan Service last month highlighted several Serbian companies exporting dual-use goods to Russia that have been targeted by Western sanctions due to their use in Russian armaments deployed in Ukraine — despite a pledge by President Aleksandar Vucic that his country would not serve as a conduit for circumventing U.S. and EU sanctions.

The investigation showed equipment for the Russian squadron was shipped from the Belgrade airport by a company that had an address associated with Avio Chem. According to international trade databases, most of the company’s trade was with two related airlines that are close to Putin’s regime.

The British statement said 31 individuals and entities, including several directors and their immediate family members, linked to designing and manufacturing drones and missile parts and importing and supplying key electronic components are part of the sanctions.

Another aim of the sanctions, the British government said, is to starve Russia’s military of key components and technology from Western manufacturers.

“Pre-invasion Russia was a major exporter of arms. Instead, it is now having to turn to North Korea and Iran for unreliable equipment and to buy back parts it previously exported to other countries. While the world is moving forwards technologically, Russia is going backwards,” the statement said.