Following the calls from Poland and the Baltic states, the European Union has quietly deleted a sanctions exemption that had allowed EU weapons manufacturers to do business with Russia, Reuters reported on Thursday citing anonymous officials.
Brussels blocked the export of arms and ammunition to Russia in July 2014, citing the “annexation” of Crimea – a peninsula that Russia reabsorbed following the Western-backed Maidan. However, a clause in the embargo allowed sales under contracts signed before August 2014.
French and German weapons makers took advantage of the “loophole,” as Reuters described it, to earn millions. Citing data from the EU Commission, the agency said EU member countries had sold Moscow 39 million euros ($42.3 million) worth of weapons and ammunition in 2021, up from 25 million euros in 2020, which Reuters said was on par with previous years.
It wasn’t until last week that the EU governments agreed to eliminate the exemption, after “fresh criticism” from countries like Poland and Lithuania, according to “diplomats who attended the meeting” but remain anonymous.