In an article entitled “Russia circumventing Canadian sanctions to buy mine detonators: report” for The Globe & Mail, Steven Chase wrote about Russia evading sanctions imposed by Canada for its invasion of Ukraine through Central Asia. According to the World Liberty Congress, an alliance of pro-democracy activists from authoritarian countries co-founded in 2022 by the Russian activist, writer, and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, Russia is establishing new supply chains throughout Central and South Asia to feed its war machine. These new hubs allow Russia to not only avoid Western sanctions, but also maintains its supply of weapons, ammunition, vehicled, technology, and other resources.
Mr Chase explains that based on the research conducted by the Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF), the World Liberty Congress has published a statement detailing how military goods, from gunpowder and lasers to semiconductors and telescopic sights, are reaching Russia through Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan despite Western sanctions. He highlights that this list included electronic detonators, which can be used for the production of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines.
The author then referred to ODF’s research, reiterating the observation that in 2022, Kyrgyzstan for example experienced a substantial increase in imports by over 72%, from USD 5.5 billion to USD 9.6 billion; in parallel, exports from Kyrgyzstan to Russia increased by 245%, from USD 393 million to USD 963 million. On that foundation, the author explained that in 2021, Kyrgyzstan shipped 0 electronic detonators to Russia; in 2022, that increased to 115.920. In 2022, Kyrgyzstan imported 193.536 electronic detonators from Canada, and according to the World Liberty Congress “There is reason to believe that Kyrgyzstan has re-exported Canadian-made electric detonators to Russia”. Similarly, in 2021, Kazakhstan exported 0 tonnes of gunpowder to Russia; in 2022, that increased to 11.5 tonnes. In 2022, Kazakhstan imported 17.8 tonnes of gunpowder from France and “There is reason to believe that Kazakhstani authorities re-exported French gunpowder to Russia”.
All-in-all, the World Liberty Congress noted that despite sanctions, Russia will increase its military budget from USD 86 billion in 2022 to USD 100 billion in 2023 and to USD $110 billion in 2024. Moreover, on 25 May 2023, the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) met in Moscow to draft blueprints of industrial cooperation in Central Asia to establish new logistics and trade hubs. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) President Alexandra Chyczij urged the federal government of Canada to tackle sanctions evasion, specifically by a full trade embargo on Russia and the recognition of Russia as a “supporter of terrorism”. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) published the report suspected evasion of Russian Export Controls, placing Canada among top ten countries with companies that facilitate export control and evasion.
Cover photo: theglobeandmail.com