Dutch firms guard Crimea business despite Russia sanctions

Dutch companies maintain warm relations with the Crimea, the Ukrainian region that was annexed by Russia earlier this year. This is despite the fact that Europe and the United States tightened the sanctions last week. There is now also a ban on investment in Crimea.

According to Ukraine-watcher Geert Jan Hahn, unofficial, small trade missions are going to the Crimea, led by the Russian trade representative in the Netherlands. He concludes that the good contact between Dutch companies and the new self-proclaimed government in Crimea have existed for months. The Dutch Center for Trade Promotion advises its members to respect the existing sanctions, thereby withdrawing from clandestine trade relations with Russia and Crimea.

Companies want to be first in line once the sanctions are lifted, says director Garry Garjazin of NBK Cargo Services. "We look at how and what if the sanctions are over. We went there to be the first to help Dutch companies to build bridges."

The scope of the stipulations is perfectly clear, says lawyer Heleen over de Linden, specialist in sanctions law and Russia, no imports, no exports and do not contribute anything to development. "But apparently there are plenty of companies that still look to see what possibilities there still are and each time it appears that the stipulations are insufficient." It is possible to operate under a Russian entity, for example. "Once there is no EU citizen directly connected to the company, it can proceed."

This seems to show that the plan of Europe and the United States to pinch off the region is not entirely successful. The Crimea still has a great need for foreign expertise, especially in the areas of energy, water management and road construction. It is important to note that the fine for violating the sanctions can be up to 4 million euro. French and Turkish companies have also shown interest.


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